A ‘Luv’ Worth Shar­ing

More­land cuts new mu­sic, with new feel, same artistry

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - WHAT'S UP - JO­CE­LYN MUR­PHY NWA Demo­crat-Gazette

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.”

COURTESY PHOTO

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”

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