Written by James Killen

BigbadluvWith “Big bad Luv”John Moreland solidifies his status of the Oklahoma bard of relationship frustration. His lyrics are as insightful and telling as ever, but he has expanded his horizons musically, adding a bluesier feel to this production with more slide guitar and organ and just a touch of harmonica. This is John’s fourth album and is every bit as poetically strong if not stronger than any that he has done before.

He kicks off the record with an acoustic rocker, “Salislaw Blue”, full of slide guitar, Wurlitzer organ and harmonica flourishes. He slows it down a bit on “Old Wounds”, calling love a violent word with a plaintive dobro theme.

Moreland describes the ultimate love frustration with the ironically light sounding “Every Kind of Wrong” which features a fine southern rock lead and ends with the final stanza, “You’ve been falling short of golden, and I’ve been every kind of wrong. I guess I’m dying to let you ruin me and you’ve been sinking all year long. So if that chariot their driving don’t swing low enough for us, just paint two crosses on my eyelids and point me out of touch.” If that doesn’t get to the root of the matter, I don’t know a poet that could.

“Love is not an Answer” strolls through an environment of piano and organ bearing a sincere commitment of love along with a subdued guitar lead. John, does an Oklahoma Springsteen-style masterpiece with “Lies I Chose to Believe” to a gorgeous piano theme. “Amen, So be It” picks up the tempo again with a bluesy song of resignation.

JohnmorelandIn a solo vocal and guitar composition, Moreland, visits the world of loss and pressing on, with “No Glory in Regret”, a straight ahead folk composition. Bringing the listener up from introspection, John follows  with the swamp rocker, “Ain’t We Gold”, featuring reverb guitar and harmonica. The mood drops lower again with the country dobro anthem, “Slow Down Easy” stating “I’ve been hauling a heavy soul” and asking for commitment from his love interest in the most vulnerable way.

“It Don’t Suit Me (Like Before)” dares to enter the country vernacular, complete with pedal steel and country telecaster riffs. “Latchkey Kid” ends this series of songs with a story of regret in the middle of life, singing “Don’t let me die in California while I’m dragging all these rivers in my mind”.

“Big Bad Luv” is a step forward for John Moreland. It’s an expansion on his musical persona and a step further outside the box lyrically for a great social observer and poet. Yeah, you want to listen to this one and listen carefully,