Another week, another impulse purchase for my CD collection. Once again the sound of one track on the radio was enough to fire my secret musical sense and send me down purchasing avenues I perhaps wouldn’t normally venture. This week’s target was none other Jim Moray a previously unheard quantity in these parts but one that offered one of those potentially sublime moments where everything stops and you really focus on the song to which you are listening.
The song in question was My Sweet Rose, a tale of bittersweet romance drenched in pleading strings and a barbed lyric that swings from love in full bloom to the pits of domestic violence. Made all the more compelling by the untainted nature of the vocal, I figured after such a dramatic entrance into Moray’s world the album itself couldn’t fail to disappoint me. After all this track hadn’t even been touted as a single. So after living with the album for a decent length of time I found myself in a form of reviewing disarray. Was this an album that I could honestly recommend as something of merit or was the track I had fallen for been something of a flash in the pan.
First off, there’s no doubt that Moray is something of a prodigal talent. He’s up to his neck in this record taking credit for piano, guitars, drums, bass, keyboards, programming, percussion and orchestrations as well as the production itself. In terms of genre Moray would be in the singer/songwriter classification. However as the instrumentation on this release proves this is no simple acoustically driven collection of ballads.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the album is that it doesn’t necessarily have an immediate appeal. My Sweet Rose comes across as something of a rarity in the respect that you are grabbed by its lyrical and musical content. However many of the other tracks tend to wander in and out of your consciousness without leaving an immediate impression (one particular example being Dog & Gun which seems particularly bereft of melody). This could be a result of the songs reliance on traditional folk arrangements.
There are some very worthy moments however, tracks such as Nightvisiting and Fair and Tender Lovers show Moray’s talent for melancholy and a suitably morose vocal. Production on the album is pretty much faultless as well with sweeping grand arrangements that also serve the songs without necessarily overpowering them.
I think its safe to say that the appeal of this album lies strictly in the long term. Expect few hooks and you won’t be disappointed, this is an album that I suspect must be allowed to seep in and get under your skin for the desired effect.