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Album Review: Nathan Moore – Dear Puppeteer



Singer/songwriter Nathan Moore hasn’t changed much throughout his nine albums—and that’s a good thing. On his latest effort, Dear Puppeteer, his songs remain stripped down, uncooked and bare-sounding, and wonderfully listenable.

Categorized as a folk guitarist, Moore’s music has a distinct ruminative sound that borrows from legendary folk singers and musicians from the past 45 years. Although he truly puts his own mark on his music with his humble playing, string plucking, and his raw sound, there are hints of numerous musicians in his songs; from Dylan to Townes Van Zandt, to James Taylor to Leonard Cohen. He has managed to borrow styles, both lyrically and musically, from these and other folk/rock artists and use these influences to create something that is attractive, tasteful, and refreshingly inimitable.

There are flavours of hillbilly, blues, and folk deliciously strewn across this album, making for an enjoyable musical trek across an ever-changing landscape. “Safe To Say” is an instant grabber, soaked with melody and a nice flow that is catchy from the opening chord. “I’m The Same” leaks slowly of Bruce Springsteen, with its softened growl and mild drawl on some of the words—there’s a beautiful innocence and simplicity to this tune that speaks volumes about Moore’s talents.

Elsewhere, “In The Basement” borrows from Leonard Cohen in its low-voiced delivery, poetic technique and subdued cantor, while “The Garden” has a sound all its own since it’s enveloped with mysterious string plucking and a humble vocal approach that combine to create a sort of Louisiana bayou feel. “Train of Thoughts” is an exposed, barren sounding song that embarks on a message about the fragility of the human spirit and how people can be deceiving.

Above all, Moore’s sound is honest and contemplative—no need for resounding production or a background of instrumentation; Moore gets it all done with his vast array of guitar string work and well-thought lyrics. This is stuff that is to the bone, easy, and satisfying. All of the songs on Dear Puppeteer are wrapped in a mysticism or musical piety that sounds fresh and still unassuming, while being able to borrow some of folk and rock’s greatest influences to do so.

Aside from guitar, there are touches of fiddle, mouth organ, and other accoutrements that dress up the songs. The harmonica can be heard effectively on “Can’t Fly To Heaven,” which is the biggest allusion to Bob Dylan in every way imaginable: beat, lyrics, delivery, music—it’s a blatant but pleasing facsimile of Dylan’s sound. On “Hollow,” there’s once again a gorgeous Leonard Cohen-ish feel to its rolling guitar and submissive lyrical advance.

Dear Puppeteer is a wonderful album. While borrowing pastiches from past artists, it exudes a feel that is all its own. It’s moody, poignant, and has a high “re-listen ability” factor. Fans of folk, (both old and new), pleasing guitar picking, and basic lyrical acuity will truly enjoy this set from start to finish.

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