There are artists who can imbue the simplest of melodies with the richest of atmospheres, and Chris Moore is one of them. Cats like this gent (and, dig this: he's an ex-extreme skateboarder well known worldwide!) are not common at all, for one thing, far from it, and I suspect his highly baffling but striking ability derives in an talent to simultaneously be discrete and unifying without thinking about it for even a moment, pulling out from bone marrow a trait so primal he couldn't hope to avoid it. In many ways, Moore possesses the same mysterious proclivities Marc Bolan operated within, but through a modernist version pulling in Richard Lloyd, Television's quirky guitarist-founder (at least, I'm assuming those threadily insinuating lines are Moore's; could be co-player Adam Druckman for all I know, as the liner notes don't distinguish).
Don't be deceived that Harmless Blues is as musique primitif and guileless as first seems to be the case on the opening cut of the titular name, an infectious confection of rural innocence and glowing melodics. The offset is heralded by that constantly recurring jangly lead guitar harking back to a John Cale-y darkness becoming much more solemn in Before We Fade, a cross between prairie lament and sea shanty…but also poetically obscure a la Jim Morrison's Horse Latitudes. Both cuts, however, are camouflage letting into revelations wherein Cale's scaly head finally fully rears up and tears things down to basics (Pushed out the Door). Moore's never as torrid as John can be when provoked by memory's savage echoes, but he nonetheless embodies the same conversational and genteely soul-rending depths reacting to emotional impact.
If the point was obscured by Moore's polished/unpolished boy-next-door vocals, the piano intro to Watch the Sky puts the varnish on it all, straight out of Cale's repertoire and imprint but with Neil Young's rough wheatstraw outlook and thousand-yard stare. Still, the listener can't help but be ensorcelled by the ceaseless Television accompaniments. What Foxx, Lloyd, and Cale all were captive to ceaselessly pervades Moore's spirit as well: a grinning muse whose subtle effects parceled themselves in an artlessness acting as foil to inexplicable sophistications within offbeat melodics. This is folk music alright, but with the sort of twisted perceptics that made the aforementioned Bolan and even Dylan so distinctive. What Moore hears in life, not what he sees, informs his set of nervously calm and collected aesthetics. The music, ironically enough then, is just an extension of that, and the listener gets wonderfully lost between life and art.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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