Ian Moore: El Sonido Nuevo

Catchy originals from a singer-songwriter and his power-pop trio

Moore’s earlier years as a guitar-slinging Texan have completely receded from his rear-view mirror, but the last fifteen years has seen the blues not so much abandoned as muscled into balance with soul and pop flavors. His guitar playing is still beefy, and he can rip up rock solos, but his songs don’t rely on 12-bar progressions, his melodies are upbeat rather than blue, the harmonies reach to the British Invasion and California sunshine pop, and he offers himself more as a singer-songwriter than a guitarist. Those changes have developed organically over several years and albums, and here he transforms again from the psych inflections of Luminaria and experimental arrangements of To Be Loved to straight-ahead pop-rock. The new sound (or el sunido nuevo) is due in large part to the reduction of Moore’s band, the Lossy Coils, to a power-pop trio of guitar, bass and drums. The production skips layer-upon-layer overdubbing, favoring instead the trio’s rhythm section and strong, clear vocals. Moore’s stylistic reach is broad, from the tightly arranged a cappella intro of “Silver Sunshine” to the superb pop balladry of “Newfound Station” and blues-based punch of “Let Me Out.” At times the music takes on the pop-edged rock sounds of ‘70s bands like Foreigner, Electric Light Orchestra and Pink Floyd, with some David Gilmour-eque guitar adding power to “Hilary Step.” Moore’s a skilled songwriter, managing to close-rhyme “things I’ve missed” with “miscreants,” turning a pep talk into a nervous glance at a darker past, and weaving themes of uncertainty, self-doubt and loneliness into several songs. The closing “Sad Affair” provides a melodic homage to Alex Chilton’s “Holocaust,” and its downcast appraisal segues neatly back to the pub-rock energy of the opener. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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