A ‘Luv’ Worth Sharing
Moreland cuts new music, with new feel, same artistry
John Moreland isn’t really used to having a significant audience yet. Though his recent release “Big Bad Luv” is his fourth solo album, the Oklahoma native says he was writing and performing for so long without anyone noticing or caring that the attention he’s received of late hasn’t changed much for him. The only question he’s considering in his music is “Does this feel right for me?”
“Maybe that’s why it rings true, you know? There is no filter because I’m not really considering the audience reaction at all,” Moreland shares. “My day-to-day life, like anybody else’s, seems kind of boring to me. I don’t look at my life and think, ‘Here’s some remarkable sh*t that people need to know about,’ you know? But I’ve learned that’s kind of where the good stuff lies. That’s the thing everybody can relate to.”
In fact, Moreland says he doesn’t put much conscious thought in to any step in the writing process. Meaning, songwriting is such a natural exercise for him — a way to empty his head — that it isn’t until later he can look back on the music he’s written and realize themes or tones that present themselves.
“It’s just like having a conversation with your subconscious, and you draw something out and put it in a song,” he says. “You don’t really know what it’s about or where it came from, but it feels right.”
Though Moreland has come to be known by a bit of a “sad bastard” persona, he says that’s not actually who he is. And the weight of even his saddest tunes doesn’t seem to affect him, during the writing or the performing.
“It feels really good to me,” Moreland says of performing some of the emotionally devastating work he’s come to be known for. “I don’t feel any kind of like burden or weight from it. It feels freeing. So I hope it feels that way for people too. But again, I’m not really thinking about that.”
So when “Big Bad Luv” turned out a little more positive — happy, hopeful even — than some of his previous works, Moreland says it wasn’t as a response to what people say about his art. It was just Moreland writing, seeing what would come out. Maybe the fact that he fell in love and got married in the last few years has something to do with it, but Moreland points to intuition and feeling when asked where his inspirations come from.
“You kind of throw a bunch of things at the wall and see what sticks, and then you pick what sticks and use that as some sort of direction, then you sort of feel around until you find the rest of it, you know?”
Once he has that direction, Moreland usually does everything himself — recording in makeshift studios, engineering the album and building the tracks up as he plays each instrumental part himself. The only conscious decisions with “Big Bad Luv” came with these technical aspects. Moreland recorded in a traditional studio setting, hiring an engineer and bringing in other musicians to fill the tracks.
“It’s really rewarding to hear your songs with other people playing on them because they’re playing stuff that you wouldn’t have thought of or that you’re not capable of,” Moreland says. “So to have people you trust do their thing on your songs was really rewarding in kind of an unexpected way.”
Alternative country singer and songwriter John Moreland returns to Fayetteville for his first headlining show at George’s on Tuesday. The Roots Festival alum — one of his favorite festivals to play — released his new album “Big Bad Luv”