Sometimes I have to defer to a musician’s own surmising about themselves and in the case of Springfield, Missouri’s Brandon Moore I can’t sum up his music better than he can. Moore describes his sound as “…high-spirited, barefoot-in-the-grass-under-funky-stars, feel-good songs with danceable grooves.” It is an unarguably spot on self-assessment and one I noticed from the very onset of his debut record Down in the Dirt which is littered with down-home bluesy tunes constructed from twangy guitars and harmonica melodies as famous as apple pie.
Down in the Dirt opens with the raucously upbeat roadhouse rocker “Down this Road.” As one could expect its lyrics deal with a river that will “take me home.” To an outsider or one who might be looking too far into things this lyric might seem a cliché. But for anyone familiar with southern culture, the river is a quintessential part of southern art. For who would Huck Finn been without a river to travel on.
There is also a very spiritual aspect to water and the river and this spiritual aspect, along with an organ and a banjo makes its presence known quite literally on “Rhetoric” and then the horns enter with a bit of jazzy scat beauty that recalls the wonderful jazzy, psych-funk grooves laid down by Jerry Garcia and company which continues onto the upbeat “Play those Strings.”
We are treated to the more upbeat musings of southern culture on the fast-paced fiddle infected “Wrecked” which contains some pretty wicked string solos and then slips seamlessly into the slow country crooner “Virginia.” We get even deeper into the country as we are treated to the classically beautiful ballad banjo-fiddle barn rocker “Good Fortune.”
Near the end of Down in the Dirt Moore offers up the six-minute percussion-based eclectic jam session “Why Wait” a tune which carries the same high intensity energy of many of the album’s songs but serves to show his scope for Down in the Dirt.
With the release of Down in the Dirt Brandon Moore has put every ounce of his twenty plus years of playing music into each and every song. Fans of bluegrass and country will find it an instant classic to be played over and over again though I suspect anyone who admires well-crafted songs and good ole southern charm should give this record a listen too.
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