Friday, April 26, 2013

Rob Moir: "Places To Die" (album review)

In a world where indie folk musicians are a dime a dozen (plus inflation), Toronto's Rob Moir stands apart.  His sophomore album, Places To Die (out April 30th), stands out from the crowded scene because it's never boring.  It's not always on point, but it never induces yawns.

It's difficult for a song to live up to a title as clever as "Places To Die (Before Seeing the World)", but with its lyrics, this one certainly does.  Melody and rawness work side-by-side on the delightfully ramshackle "Lost And Found Like You".

There are some unconventional structures on Places To Die as well as the traditional folk ones.  "Cop Car Crucifix" flops due to a distracting and unnecessary drum machine.  "Oh Margot Please" has the complete opposite result.  An eerie and off-kilter arrangement gives it an almost Waitsian quality.  That Waitsian quality appears again on "Cold", this time however it's the early down-and-outer-in-a-booze-can version of Tom Waits that Moir channels.

It feels as though I'm constantly clamouring for folk musicians to shake off the shackles and rock harder.  Moir may be an exception to that.

A handful of times on the record he turns up the volume and tempo.  The bigger rock sound of "Goodnight Sleeptight" approaches, but never goes over the breach like you so desperately want.  A great groove on "Love Will Cure Us All" is wasted as the song threatens, but never manages to ignite.

Moir's lyrics are better complemented by a stripped down arrangement than they are by a half-hearted attempt to kick ass.

With some selective employment of the Skip button, Places To Die goes from a decent indie folk record to an incredibly solid one.  So don't be afraid to use it.

Rob Moir plays an album release show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on April 27th.

Best tracks: "Oh Margot Please", "Cold"

Track listing for Places To Die:
  • Places To Die (Before Seeing the World)
  • Lost And Found Like You
  • Goodnight Sleeptight
  • The Fear
  • Cold
  • Cop Car Crucifix
  • Love Will Cure Us All
  • Oh Margot Please
  • Ghost Money
  • Crow Stew

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