In 2018, music of the flesh thrives hard while its more soulful counterpart ironically gives up more of its ghost, leaving the responsibility of holding down what remains to a shrinking handful of singer-songwriters like Patsy Moore, who reverently treat music as the spiritual nexus of mind and body.
Moore’s latest album, What Surprises Us, is a gathering of the ancestors’ diasporic forms — a modern rendering of American Roots music, if you will — where the set sounds idyllically articulate, despite the many influences.
Warm electronic dreamscapes, Folk, and Pop flourishes gracefully lie with spiritual hymns, Funk, Blues patterns, Og Mandino(!), Alice Walker(!!), and even subtle Trap references.
Half of Moore’s winning formula lies in the way she pulls these musical pieces together and integrates them with her deceptive emotional intensity.
The other half is the assembly of three elements that tie into Moore’s beautiful deployment of prose: spirituality, ancestral guidance, and love.
The album’s opening track, “Kundalini,” triggers my earlier thoughts about spirituality and the diaspora with its mystical fusion of awakening themes and Mississippi Delta sketches, in which the latter looks to its Ghanaian griot parents to help tell a story through the spiritual realm.
The gloriously-triumphant positioning in the face of adversity expressed by “Evocation” has a beat that makes me think Kerri Chandler or some beloved DJ from Detroit should seek out for a remix. This is praise music for the dancefloor — and everyone.
“Talisman,” “Sister Moon” and “The River Song” are highly-literary pieces that reveal inspiring tales of personal and collective struggle, with the spirit of ancestors and their own victories serving as sources for historic precedent and extensible courage.
Fellow soulful creator Maritri Garrett makes an appearance in “Magic” — a tune that considers your special place in the world, and more specifically in the lives of other people.
Moore treats affairs of the heart with similar care. The longing expressed in “Speechless” may strike a personal chord with many of you, while “All the Things” is a simmer of a song that turns quite torrid towards the end. I also dig the smooth Funk and thoughts of kindness in the title track.
The minimal phrasing of “Brooklyn” has a unique charm that’s further enhanced by the story-within-the-story lyrics that leave the listener to wonder.
I don’t knock flesh music. There’s a place for it.
But What Surprises Us is your soul’s antidote for what’s been a helluva 2018.
Head over to Moore’s Bandcamp page today and get your dose …
[Note: the track “Evocation” was previously given an incorrect title. The correction has been made.]