published: 18 /
Poetry Mondays Records
Intimate and evocative new album from poetic Gibralter-born but London-based singer-songwriter Gabriel Moreno
It is one thing to write songs during the London Covid lockdowns and record them in the intervening escapes, but it's another to write a whole album about the experience. It is the latter that Gabriel Moreno has done here.
2020 was the Chinese Year of the Rat, supposedly an imaginative and resourceful animal and the creature has given the title to this album.
This album forms the picture in my mind of the poetic singer-songwriter Moreno, a musician whose soul seems nourished by bringing folk together at various events and venues, sitting alone at the table with a drink, immersed in his own thoughts and fears, imagining and fragmenting them into an album of songs.
The opening offering 'Solitude' is a conversation with solitude itself, a state writers need but in this instance has gone too far, the singer wanting " a room, not the whole hotel."
Finger-picked songs explore the plight of the poor in a world that's "trading a nurse for a snake and a purse" and are often epistolary in nature, with that Calexico tinged melancholy or lonely piano keys tapping out the pantomime of the news. The title track 'Year of the Rat" expands the theme, with a modern Jazz amble through the shifting parameters and ups and downs, of 2020.
The highlights of this collection for me at first listening are 'I Feel Like Dancing', almost a Latin brother to Jarvis Cocker's 'House Music All Night Long', with a gentle acoustic offbeat that moved me to my feet and sent me shuffling to the kitchen to check on the pasta, and 'When the City Wakes Up', a clever, Leonard Cohen type song, wondering how a relationship will behave when lockdown is lifted and a myriad of possibilities and options stretch out before us in London.
Moreno himself used the lifting of lockdown in the most productive of ways, reconnecting with old friend, musician and mixing engineer Christian Gadd from Gibraltar who he had not seen for twenty years and stalwart collaborator Ned Cartwright, who both worked on the concept of this album.
Scottish singer and artist Catherine Rudie came up with the clever visual manifestation of a solitary origami rat made of a folded lyric sheet against the traditional red and gold Chinese background on the sleeve.
Gabriel has recruited many others from the musical diaspora of the alternative folk scene in London to work on the project, with musicians hailing from Gibraltar, Barcelona, Chile and other parts of Britain as well as Gabriel's live band The Quivering Poets, to flesh out the songs.
These musicians include Christian Gadd (bass, electric piano, percussion, jazz guitar, mellotron), Ned Cartwright (piano, backing vocals and production), Pearl Fish (vocals and harmonies), Quivering Poet, Pablo Yupton (electric guitar), long-time collaborator Adam Beattie (bass and vocals), Fiona Bevan (vocals), Chris "CJ" Jones (drums), Quivering Poet, Pablo Campos (drums and percussion), DG Solaris (backing vocals) Maya McCourt (cello, backing vocals), Sergio Contreras (trumpet) and other acclaimed names.
Even with all the musical expertise on display, all this still has the feel of an intimate one to one album, a letter, a prayer or a conversation, with the intimate nylon stringed acoustic prominent behind some almost spoken words.
At the time of writing and Covid permitting, the artist is on tour in the south of England promoting this album
Feel Like Dancing
Sellotape My Heart
The Dreams of The Poor
Dance On In An Empty field
All That We Have
When The City Wakes Up
The Year Of The Rat
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