John Moreland Moves to Big Bold Country Shuffles On ‘Big Bad Luv’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

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John Moreland blew through like an Oklahoma tornado when his 2015 record High on Tulsa Heat came out, breaking hearts everywhere with his stunningly gloomy prose. The songwriter’s anticipated follow-up Big Bad Luv will continue to break your heart, but it might make you smile through the tears, too. It is clear from the start Moreland is continuing to evolve his sound. His arrangements are less sparse, and even a little upbeat, despite how dark his lyrics get. Big Bad Luv is a devastatingly beautiful collection of songs about moving forward.

Moreland is an expert at capturing what it’s like to feel left behind and less than. He is a solitary loner to whom you’ll want to give all your love. Much of Big Bad Luv finds him coming to terms with his sadness, and even finding a little light at the end of the tunnel. “Amen, So Be It” has one of the album’s catchiest choruses, and is Moreland’s take on accepting what will be will be. “No Glory in Regret” is a quieter tune about trying his best to stop the pain of looking back and wondering. “Mourning these wasted old sparks that all disappeared/I never meant to be your ‘woe-is-me’ emergency/But I ain’t dead yet/And I know there ain’t no glory in regret,” he sings in that gorgeous rasp. “God’s been making deals/While we’re down here spinnin’ our wheels.”

Moreland plays with his own take on the blues on Big Bad Luv, with rock and roll heavy hitters “Sallisaw Blue” and “Ain’t We Gold”, building on a sound he had only just begun to explore on previous records. Whether singing about finally being ready to settle down (“Slow Down Easy”) or getting over the things that aren’t good for him anymore (“It Don’t Suit Me”), Moreland is shedding layers of burden on Big Bad Luv. He is not dwelling on what has happened in the past. He’s ready and eager for change, cutting ties with toxic relationships and looking to the future.

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