John Moreland

Big Bad Luv – 2017 (4AD)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by John Moreland

John Moreland sings songs about love, mostly desperate love - like the variety sung of during The Band-esque "Love is Not an Answer" - on "Big Bad Luv." Via the latter, he confesses, "I don't need an answer/I need you." Yes, he wants love, but he needs connection.

Moreland's sound is more roots rock than traditional country, but it's nevertheless an appealing sonic stew. His backing band sounds a little The Grateful Dead-y during the rolling "Every Kind of Wrong," but he's an absolute vocal dead ringer for Bruce Springsteen during "Lies I Chose to Believe." He sings like a late-night confessor on this one, which features an arrangement straight out of "Tunnel of Love" era The Boss. Later, with "Ain't We Gold," he conjures up Los Lobos a tad.

"Big Bad Luv" hits its high point with "No Glory in Regret." Over a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, Moreland makes the intentional choice not to look back in anger. Instead, he lets out a "Bless our busted hearts," knowing full well that living with regrets is not truly living.

Love is a kind of scary monster, as Moreland's album title reaffirms, that humankind will likely never quite figure out. But with "Big Bad Luv," John Moreland seems set to die trying.