by Craig Howieson
Things can get dark for anyone once in a while. As clouds gather, setting your mind racing through disastrous thoughts, you try to make sense of that which surrounds you. Often to no avail.
Jordan Moser isn’t afraid of the dark. In fact on Long Night, his label debut for Keeled Scales, the Texan invites it in, staring down the demons that torment not just him, but all of us.
“You thought it’d pass when the season changed.” This crushing line is our introduction to the album. It is a line typical of the no holds barred honesty displayed throughout Long Night, where Moser reveals himself as a contemplative, wandering soul, soaked in an age old cynicism and plainspoken wisdom.
Throughout the record he does little to take the edge off his lyrics of love, loss, companionship and death. Instead, he leaves it up to the music to soften the blow. The trundling spin of his outlaw country coils in lap steel and brushed drums as it crawls into your subconscious- the humidity of the south palpable in its lurching gait. There are acres of space around the voices and instrumentation, as if to mimic the Texas’ landscape. Exquisite flickers of plucked guitar and weeping organ kick up plumes of dust before they are gone in the wind. While above it all, the buzzing timbre of Moser’s voice floats and stings in equal measure.
Moser also masks an underlying humour within his lyrics that prevent things from getting too heavy. Love Is Gonna Test You finds more than a trace of a wink in his eye as he sings, “Love to me was a hedonistic pleasure cruise / You should have seen my face / When I got the news.” The track threatens to run away with itself as the drums kick in on its second half. As the whip cracks, it makes you want to hitch yourself to the wagon and join it on its lonesome path.
The immensely talented, Austin based singer/songwriter, Molly Burch, appears on every track on Long Night- her voice the rose among the thorns of Moser’s barbed musings. On the album’s stunning closer, Road To Trouble, Moser embraces his fatalistic side (“I don’t care what they say / We were on the road to trouble anyway”) as the two embark on a classic country duet, swapping verses in their own ode to Baez and Dylan. As clouds of lazy lap steel envelop the song, it is like capturing the last dying moments of the day before steadying yourself for the long night ahead.
Long Night is a record filled with a truthful brutality. As Moser sings, “When I get this dying done / Quit dragging my shadow cross the sun / I’ll be blasting off without a sound” on Between The Stars, it is a recognition of the fleeting nature of time and our tiny stature within the greater scheme of things.
Sometimes, looking at life with all of its ugliest aspects left in can be the most cathartic thing. Meeting your devils head on with a smile on your face, safe in the absurdity of it all. Life after all is yours to make of what you wish. Long Night may be dark, but it is also darkly comic. Moser never lets himself stray too far into despair, at all times retaining a humour at the core of his ponderings on the peculiarities of life.
It’s easy to get lost in the shadows, losing sleep over things you can’t change. This record is the perfect company for those long nights.
Secret Meeting score: 83