Jun 12, 2013

Album Review: John Moreland - In The Throes

A man seeks purpose and redemption that always seem as far away as the horizon. That's the overriding theme of John Moreland's remarkable In the Throes, and one that could be monotonous if not for Moreland's razor-sharp pen, soulful muse, and too young to be so damn world-weary vocals.

Whether he's lamenting lost love, struggling with faith or ...well,  that's pretty much the balance of the subject matter... John viciously nails every song into your heart. There's not a throw-away line on the entire album, much less a throw-away song. Every verse is crafted to take you back to a particularly painful day in your life and rub your nose in it, and you'll love every minute of it. In the Throes is gloriously and joyfully heartbreaking.

"Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore" questions the reasons a songwriter keeps pouring his heart out in a world where so few seem to place real value on music. "Should I go to Texas or Tennessee?" sings Moreland, pondering the motivations for his craft.

"Break My Heart Sweetly" is a song of such perfect sorrow, it burns like the whiskey that gets a broken man through that first lonely night. It's a song that is so authentic in its sadness, it feels more like an eternal truth than a song.

In the album's closing track, "Blues & Kudzu," Moreland tries to "leave behind yesterday" on a Mississippi highway. There's no chorus, only a confessional bridge that "I'm getting tired of tellin' God that I'm pissed at him." It's a song that almost feels incomplete, but it perfectly sums up the arch of the album: a bruised young man with an old soul trying to find something that makes him whole.

In the Throes is immersive. The commitment and engagement are so strong, at times it feels like the songs are coming out of you, not John. Moreland puts every drop of blood on the page and every tear in the song. This, my friends, is what songs are for.

RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Chris Knight, Townes Van Zandt, Jason Isbell.

In the Throes is available on iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon.


  1. I just wanted to say thanks for introducing me to this guy. Unbelievable album. I have not stopped listening to it since I got it. Thanks again.



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