Written by Samuel Barker
ImageWhen John Moreland last rolled through town with The Campfire Songs tour (featuring Aaron Lee Tasjan and Caleb Caudle), he kept his new material mostly, if not completely untouched. (I don’t recall any new songs being played)

So, when Moreland came to town to promote his new album, High on Tulsa Heat, who could turn down the chance for a double-header?

You see, Moreland had a full show scheduled at the Mucky Duck, but he also have an in-store performance at Cactus Music on the books and when it comes to reporting on the music of those we enjoy, you can never be too thorough.

To start though, High on Tulsa Heat was released on the heel of an album, In the Throes, that blew me away from the first listen. It was as beautiful of a collection of music as I have heard. I genuinely believe it will go down as a “must listen” album for future generations of music listeners. So, in my mind at least, it had quite a bit to live up to and I can safely say that it did.

Moreland created another road map of human emotions and chronicled the life of a person in the central parts of the United States. If these songs were all crafted from experiences in his native Oklahoma, it just shows that folks in Oklahoma are not much different than folks from here in Texas and any other place (everywhere) that listeners connect to John Moreland’s music. So, before we get to the performance, let me say, do yourself a favor and pick up Moreland’s albums. They’re definitely special.

Alright, now to the performances.

Up first was a stop by Cactus Music for a couple of free beers and a short set of tunes from Moreland.

While most people come out and pound the new tracks out in an in-store situation, completely ignoring their previous release, Moreland treated it like an opening set. Songs like Blacklist and Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore from In the Throes made it into the set, as did Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars and Cherokee from High on Tulsa Heat.

The performance was solid and even in a record store, people mostly stopped and listened to every word Moreland sang. It was a refreshing thing to witness.

About 90 minutes later, Moreland made his way to the stage at the Mucky Duck for a full set of songs. While it was not apparent at the Cactus Music gig, it quickly became apparent that the nagging summer cold everyone I know, including myself, has battled was resting in the chest of Moreland. A few songs were interrupted by coughing, but, in the end, it just added to the authenticity of seeing a person telling stories of life with guitar backing up the tale.

These are not pop songs created to sell a false happiness, these are songs to relate to and feel less alone with.

ImageNot much from either In the Throes or High on Tulsa Heat was left out of the 80-minute set. Some of the main treats were hearing a few new songs Moreland has already worked out in the time from recording to release of High on Tulsa Heat. It showed Moreland is actively working and creating without taking time to bask in his accomplishments. As if his touring schedule was not enough evidence of that.

I try my best to not hype up artists when they do not make me feel a sense of amazement. I do not want my words to come off as puffery when I say someone brings it at a higher level that most. Moreland does, in fact, bring his songs, tales and downright soul-bearing truths out in a way not many others can do. The words paint pictures, the songs open up a window in his thoughts and, as I said earlier, the listener instantly feels like they are not in this world alone because someone out there feels the same way.

Do yourself a favor and the rest of the people who love honest music, go see John Moreland, buy his records and make sure he can keep creating. It is a great thing for all of us to have folks like Moreland out there telling how it feels to be a human being, instead of selling how you should feel like the silly radio fodder that fills the airwaves today.

Be safe out there, folks.