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Liam Moore: Visions of a Perfect Life
by George Graham
(Independent Release as broadcast on WVIA-FM 9/2/2020)
I guess it’s safe to say that the singer-songwriter format probably has more musical varieties than just about anything else in contemporary music. There are acoustic and electric artists; guitar based and piano based; rock, folk and jazz influenced; solo and larger band format.
This week, we have a mostly acoustic, largely solo singer-songwriter who brings something of a classical background to his new, self-produced album, Liam Moore, whose new second recording is called Visions of a Perfect Life.
Minneapolis-based Liam Moore released his debut album in 2010, but since then has devoted much of his efforts toward writing classical-style music for chamber ensembles and choirs. One can hear a little of that influence, especially in the chamber music-style arrangements on some of the tunes with string or brass players. But a lot of the material is conventionally folky, based on acoustic guitars. Moore’s songs are generally melodic and often take up their lyrical subject in imaginative ways. Moore has an appealing vocal style that is sometimes a touch rough-hewn, though he acquits himself well on the new album.
He is joined a variable cast of characters, with regulars being drummer Todd Olson, and electric guitarist Dexter Wolfe. Moore himself plays various guitars and bass throughout.
The album opens with a rather atypical track, Cosmic Noon, which features some electronic sounds to go with the cosmic lyrics, which ultimately turn out to be a love song. <<>>
More in common with the singer-songwriter paradigm is Horseshoe, an appealingly melodic tune, which a has a more rock-oriented sound with the presence of the drums. <<>>
One of the more musically creative tracks that also shows Moore’s classical composition experience is a song called Finis, which is a setting of words by the poet e.e. cummings. A five piece chamber ensemble with woodwinds and strings makes it interesting. <<>>
Also with a classical chamber style arrangement is a piece called Lift with a quintet of brass instruments. The song is also one of the more intriguing lyrically, considering flight as an allegory for love. <<>>
While most of the album has an acoustic foundation, a track called The Slouch has a fuzzy electric guitar as its principal instrumental voice. Lyrically, it’s a kind of pep talk for self-esteem. <<>>
Addressing the contemporary problem of too many distractions is a piece called Imbalances, which, I think, is quite effective. <<>>
One of my favorite songs on the album is a short track called Apologia, a which is about what its title says, with nice use of a string trio. <<>>
The album’s final listed track is called You Don’t Have to Grow Up, which builds to almost a kind of doo-wop-style song, with the added horn trio. <<>>
But after that, there is hidden track on the CD, the only piano-based arrangement, and a kind of backhanded love-song. <<>>
Minneapolis singer-songwriter and sometime classical composer Liam Moore’s new second album Visions of a Perfect Life is a satisfying record by an appealing artist who brings together some hints of his classical side in the arrangements, adding some nice facets to his generally pleasing, often memorably tuneful songs. The variety of the arrangements is a big plus for this album, taking it beyond the typical singer-songwriter fare. Despite the different added musicians, the album has an intimate, kind of living room feel to it. It’s obviously an independent release and that adds to its charm.
Our grade for sound quality is about a B-plus. Sometimes the recording can sound a little unpolished, and the rendering of Moore’s lead vocal is not always the cleanest. But overall, sonically, the album has fewer faults than many a commercial major label release.
Largely acoustic music with eclectic but intimate arrangements, intelligent lyrics and pleasing vocals: Liam Moore’s new release checks a lot of the right boxes for a what a good singer-songwriter record can be.
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