8/10 Penrith Steve Customer review, 26th July 2015
I went to see Daniel Martin Moore way back in 2011. This was the only one of his albums I didn't have at the time so I bought it at the gig. Just looking at the CD now, I found a piece of paper inside with Haley Bonar's name written on it. He covered her brilliant song "Wendy Bird" during the gig. Afterwards I drunkenly asked him who it was by and he wrote her name down for me. Very nice guy, he was. Anyway, he also told his audience about this album. It was recorded to raise awareness about Mountain Top Removal method of coal mining that is going on in the Appalachian mountains. Being from Kentucky and having a great love of the environment and the music that came from the traditions of Appalachian folk music, it is a something he would like to stop. So along with Ben Sollee and to a lesser extent, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, who are both also from Kentucky, he recorded this album.
Like all of Daniel Martin Moore's recorded output, this is flawlessly played and sung - his voice is quite something. Ben Sollee isn't just a sidekick along for the ride either, his contribution is weighty, and although I know nothing else about him other than what he's put on this album, he's a talented bloke too. All of the songs are original compositions but take great influence from Appalachian folk music.
The album has a mournful tone and, whilst basing it's sound in American folk and country, is musically quite interesting. "My Wealth Comes To Me" is a song of environmental concern, with the protagonist using and taking his environment for granted. The harmonies are quite beautiful. The title track has a more experimental Americana sound but is sung with the urgency of someone trying to get their message across "Dear companion, You're deaf to me I fear, your life is far away from here". "Flyrock Blues" immediately addresses the problem of Mountain Top Removal, the flyrock being the top bit of the mountain that gets blown off. "People praying don't you land on me, don't you bust my house, just let me be on my own ground". Musically, the standout track is probably "Sweet Marie" which has acoustic guitar, flugelhorn and strings accompanying the great voices of Daniel Martin Moore and Jim James in harmony. Given the lyrical content and the cause, there's an extra level of emotion, to go along with the great performance, added to these songs.
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- Dear Companion by Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore
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