Hunter Moore

 

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Bio

Hunter Moore is a performing songwriter of uncommon ability. His new project, South of St. Louis (Wind River Records) joins three previous releases which have received radio airplay across the US and abroad and generated excellent reviews in publications including The Album Network, Gavin, Performing Songwriter, Nashville Scene, Sing Out! and Dirty Linen. His performances have taken him to coffeehouses and folk clubs in the US and Europe. Hunter's songs have been recorded by other artists as well, including Ricky Skaggs, Kathy Mattea, and Don Williams.

Hunter’s songs during live performances draw deeply on his seventh generation Southeast Missouri roots for inspiration. Growing up in a county surrounded on three sides by the Mississippi River, his writing evokes  a strong sense of time and place. Many of Hunter's songs present vignettes of rural Southern life with characters who are both proud and ambivalent about their surroundings.

Described as “country/folk with a groove,” Hunter borrows from country, folk, and blues to create a contemporary sound powered by his rhythmical approach on acoustic guitar. Also contributing to the high level of craft in his songs is a decade spent on Nashville’s Music Row working with some of Music City’s most highly respected and successful songwriters, including a two-year stint with Songwriter Hall of Famer Bob McDill.  

Reviews

FolkWax

Rating: 8 out of 10

A House Concert For One

From one standpoint South Of Saint Louis is a house concert (for one), since Hunter Moore recorded it at home. There are twenty-three tracks, eighteen of which are Hunter Moore compositions and only one of which has appeared on his trio of previous solo releases. The other tracks are short (20 seconds max) sound bites, "Enter" - footsteps are heard as he enters the room and picks up a guitar, "Before" - a false start to a song, "Bad Dream" - editing a song lyric, "I'm Recording" - audible movement is heard elsewhere in the house and Hunter calls to his wife, and finally, "Exit" - the guitar is laid down and you hear his footsteps as he leaves the room. Play this disc on "repeat" and between track twenty-three and track one you can have Hunter leave and re-enter the room, the premise being "Hell, that was fun. Let's do it all again."

All joking apart, this is music beautifully stripped down to the basics of voice and instrumental accompaniment - in this instance an acoustic guitar, sometimes a piano, and, on one cut, percussion (performed on a guitar body). Moore was born and raised in the state of Missouri and that portion of America's Midwest landscape and the Mississippi River, which ran its course near where he grew up, are themes that consistently permeate his work, as is that of family and the ties that bind. Confirming the foregoing, the opening cut, "To Missouri," is a heartfelt recollection of a much-loved place and the people whose lives unfold there. The song also hints at a yearning to return there. Moore regularly tours Europe and the second cut, "Antwerp Sunday Afternoon," is a sightseer's road song as well as a stranger's impression of a foreign land tinged with heartache for someone close left at home. Later in the set, there's the goodtime sounding "Mississippi Mud," in which the narrator actually returns home - darn if he isn't a performing musician! - and has to (repeatedly) inform old friends who ask why he has come back -"I've got the Mississippi mud in my blood." Towards the end of the album, "Myrtle Marie," is another river song, albeit set to a kick up your heels beat, while "Angelita," which follows, as you might guess, musically possesses a Tex-Mex borderland feel.

"Just Because We Do" first appeared on Hunter's sophomore album Delta Moon [1996] and features an old couple in their twilight years, "He looks at her at eighty three like she was twenty-two." The narrator goes on to reflect on his own marriage with "Romance doesn't have to get old, just because we do." The title "Goodbye Old Friend" is self-explanatory. Sat at the piano, Hunter's "I Still Have My Dream" finds the narrator attest that he simply isn't giving up on achieving his goal despite setbacks. Later, and also performed at the piano, "Pardon My Nostalgia" is a melodic song of unrequited love that could easily have been penned during the era when Messrs. Gershwin, Carmichael, and Porter were at their peak. In fact there's more love songs - and, thank heavens, not all subjectively conventional ones at that - sprinkled throughout this set, including "In The End," the bluesy "If I Didn't Love You" and "If You Were The Answer"

The onset of old age is a factor that none of us can avoid, in this life, and "If Everything Else Were Gone" handles with sensitively the subject of caring for the elderly and infirmed. Towards the close the lyric also draws attention to the younger generation, in particular "the child whose mind time has rearranged." "First Things Last" is a recollection of the initial and varied experiences that life offers us. As a youngster, there's that first pet dog - "no particular breed, the last of the litter, the neighbours gave away for free," the awkward high action playing action on a store bought Stella guitar, and "the last thing I'll ever need" - the girl that the narrator married. Purely going by the title, I expected "The Carpenter," the only co-write (with Niles Borop), to lyrically have an overt religious approach. In fact, it's rather more down to earth - and much more subtle. Having repaired the narrator's leaking roof, the carpenter proceeds to put right all else that is wrong with his house. As I said, subtle. The closing cut "America" - "you'll always be home to me," is by way of a summation of all that has gone before on this charming and melodic song collection.

There's a gentle grace present throughout South Of Saint Louis" one that embraces all of life with open arms.

Arthur Wood is a founding editor of FolkWax

Copyright Visionation, Ltd 2005. All Rights Reserved with limited rights offered to artist and their agents for publicity purposes only with proper citation to FolkWax, FolkWax.com, or www.folkwax.com.

FolkWax is the largest weekly Folk publication in the world. It is delivered via email to more than 50,000 subscribers around the world each week. It is only sent to subscribers and maintains a strict privacy policy and never shares its subscribers' information; just Folk in your box each week. You may subscribe at www.folkwax.com. For further information contact folkwax@visnat.com or call 515.440.0610.

Visionation. Ltd. is the publisher of Blues Revue, BluesWax, FolkWax, and Blues Revue. Information at www.visnat.com or 515.440.0610.

Music Reviews Quarterly

This one is mostly about the lyrics, and they are of that superior sort which really can't be overvalued. What Hunter Moore has accomplished lyric-wise on Conversations haunts with an exceptional honesty, and while the simplicity of the arrangements and the melodies carries plenty of weight in presenting the lyrics, it is the words which stand out and should be used as a primer for all songwriters on what can - and should - be accomplished by anyone hoping to create a lasting work of art.

The core of Conversations comes in the very last line of the last song ("Trucker") where the narrator recounts of the trucker "he left as I finished my coffee, he went without saying goodbye, and I still recall this conversation, not sure why." That line is nowhere as simple as it appears. Nor are any of the lyrics of Conversations. The trick here is that Moore has come to a major realization: very few conversations mean anything on the surface, and we spend our lives in seemingly meaningless conversations, but at the same time, that is what we remember, that is what is important, that is what both frustrates and completes us.

In all of Conversations no one gets anything accomplished through talk. When people come even close to veering into substance, they draw back from each other. Often old friends meet after years of separation ("Conversations," "The Boys") only to talk about the weather, old times, the new Phish album, relationships - and then they back away. In "The Road to Quang Tri," a Vietnam vet comes home only to maintain silence because he sees no point in putting others through what he experienced. In "The Boys," the narrator begins to talk seriously about himself for half a second and realizes quickly that his old friend is making an excuse to leave.
Hunter Moore's point in all these pictures is that we seldom want to really talk. We avoid it. It makes us uncomfortable. Moore doesn't moralize about it; he simply presents it as a fact that needs to be acknowledged. That observation would be enough to make Conversations worthwhile, but Moore doesn't stop there.

Quite a few years ago Paul Simon worked to capture the frustration of old married couples who stay together simply because it's too much trouble to leave. Simon's "Overs" was a poignant look at two people who "share a smile passing in the hall, but there's no laughs left cause we laughed them all - and we laughed them all in a very short time." Hunter Moore returns to a younger version of that couple in his "Wall." Here the couple has children whose busy schedules keep the couple from addressing the mechanical way they have begun to live their lives, share their love. Tight narrative lyrics in "Wall" are easily as sharp and poignant as those in Simon's "Overs," but in the end Moore goes further and digs deeper than even Simon did. To understand exactly what Moore pulls off here, it's necessary to note that Conversations was inspired by Robert Frost's North of Boston collection of poems. As Moore concludes "Wall," he makes reference to Frost's "Mending Wall" directly. Frost's poem ends in a message that attacks blind tradition, but Moore retreats from that moral to a more ambiguous, more insightful conclusion: "Aren't we like those neighbors in the poem working to repair an old stone wall? There isn't one good reason why it should be standing, still we can't seem to bear to let it fall. Could it be it serves some strange purpose in the end, one we know but can't quite comprehend? So we mend, so we mend." That is one brilliant piece of poetry and insight. Frost would approve and even envy what Moore did with "Mending Wall."

The key to Moore's insight throughout Conversations is that we can't comprehend it, but that the seemingly meaningless conversations seem to serve some purpose, even if we're "not sure why." To Moore's credit, he doesn't pretend to know why and he doesn't make up morals. He simply lets it be, and that is what makes Conversations so potent. When Bill Morrissey is on his game, he can approach these subjects, but beyond Morrissey and Moore, so few writers ever attempt to enter this gray area of ambiguity. It's a tough area to explore without preaching, without confusion, without frustration. But when it is delved into, the results can capture an honesty we often feel uncomfortable with, just as Moore noted in "The Boys."

Musically, Hunter Moore has kept this simple. He does the vocals and acoustic guitar rhythm work. He is joined by guitarist, mandolinist, accordionist Phil Madeira, bassist Chris Donohue, and percussionist Steve Hindalong. That's it. The production is excellent given its sparseness, and that sparseness is perfectly fitting considering the stories being told. The songs are a mixture of folk, country and blues, with folk perhaps being the dominant source of melodic reference. Moore's voice is very pleasant and it rides along the edginess of the melodies again in perfect sympathy with the simple frustration being presented in most of these stories.

Conversations is a concept album that meshes together with only one momentary exception, "When You Fall" (a lovely song with a message that, simply because it does contain a message, doesn't fit in with the surrounding material but which you simply can't blame Moore for including). As a concept, it's brilliant; that the concept is pulled off so effectively is amazing. Conversations is Moore's third recording.

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Hunter Moore has spent several years in Nashville providing material for artists such as Ricky Skaggs, Alabama, and Kathy Mattea. Delta Moon is his second release, following the well-received Departure. Moore’s delta moon shines down on small towns, old railroads, and the mills and churches that make up the landscape along the Mississippi. The title track has just the right amount of bayou bounce. “Just Because We Do” salutes the old couple who manage to keep romance alive in their twilight years. “Lost Train” is the tale of a lost locomotive that “just kept going.” “Other People’s Misery” pokes fun at the morbid fascination within us all...Well written and well played, it all looks deceptively easy. That’s a neat trick for anyone to pull off and on Delta Moon Moore shines.   -Neil Fagan    Performing Songwriter

Hunter Moore’s best songs are careful, deliberate folk-pop tunes about the importance of moral values and the quiet inner struggles that make or break them...Delta Moon, Moore’s second album, reveals how he’s developed into one of Nashville’s most precise and eloquent songwriters. -Michael McCall Nashville Scene

Nashville based singer-songwriter Hunter Moore’s Delta Moon is our latest offering from Tangible Music. He writes songs that glorify the common occurrences of everyday life, elevating them to acts of an almost sacred quality. There are just enough Delta blues elements mixed in with his country-folk charm to make his music stand out from the pack. Whether it be the more electrified title track, the get down feel of “Condition of the Heart” or the warm feeling of “Home Again,” Moore offers songs of maturity and simple beauty.”  The Album Network

            Hunter Moore’s list of credits include recent Midwest an East Coast appearances with such leading new-folk swingers as John Gorka, Bill Morrissey, and Greg Brown. His first CD collection makes it easy to understand why. Moore’s best work-“City of Lights,” “Human,” “These Nights,”- puts him in league with the major sluggers (or is that chuggers?) Of the U.S. coffeehouse circuit. His songs are like a good cup of cappuccino. The lyrics, the basic ingredient, are distilled to their power-packed essence, and Moore delivers his thick, heady concoction in a light, frothy melody dusted with the bittersweet shaving s of his flavorful voice...What makes the music work, like that of any good folkie, is the sureness of Moore’s vision and the pure distillation of his personality. There’s no doubting that he’s felt every emotion and observation contained here, and he’s worked diligently enough at his craft to put it across directly with a sense of individuality and freshness.   -Michael McCall  Nashville Scene  

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