in my soul there’s music everywhere

On his latest release, In the Cool of the Day, Cold Spring, Kentucky’s Daniel Martin Moore explores his roots, tapping into the sound of the south and the long shadow of religion that informs the culture. Though the lyrics are often explicitly religious, Moore never gets preachy and the beauty of the songs transcends the words, making it highly enjoyable for even those of a non-Christian persuasion.

The instrumental framework of In the Cool of the Day is what you’d expect for a Southern Americana album – acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, strings, drums, voice. What you don’t necessarily expect is the all-star talent putting the instruments to use – Yim Yames, Ben Sollee, and Haley Bonar among them.

The 50s pop-ballad vibe of “Closer Walk With Thee” makes it seem like hanging out with Jesus would be just tops, while the title track is a bit more reverent with its minor chords. “Dark Road” is a lively country rambler, and “Up Above My Head” sounds like something from a front-porch jam session.

My favorite contributions to the album are the songs written by Moore. The a capella open of “All Ye Tenderhearted” is gorgeous, further bolstered by the banjo, mandolin, and guitar that join in. “Lay Down Your Lonesome Burden” is a beautiful instrumental musing, and the humble, bluesy “O My Soul” is a must-hear. Regardless of your spiritual leanings, In the Cool of the Day will make you a believer in Daniel Martin Moore.

In the Cool of the Day drops 01.18.11.
You can download “Dark Road” here.

i wonder, am i on your mind?

The Majestic Theater in Madison, Wisconsin played host to the final stop of Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore‘s Dear Companion tour on April 3, 2010. Sollee and Moore, along with Cheyenne Marie Mize and Dan Dorff, played to a criminally small crowd, leading to an intimate and conversational production.

Kentuckians Sollee & Moore teamed up with producer Yim Yames to create an album drawing attention to the effects both environmental and cultural of mountaintop-removal coal mining in their home state and surrounding Appalachia. Throughout the evening, Moore and Sollee shared tales of contaminated drinking water, boulders rolling down mountains into communities, and the deteriorating landscape, framing the context for the music without being preachy. Really, though, the music itself spoke loudest of all.

Opening with “Something, Somewhere, Somehow”, the band’s talent became immediately apparent as they launched into an excellent instrumental outro instead of stopping abruptly as heard on the album version. Mize’s golden voice, especially in combination with Sollee’s bell-clear timbre, gave the harmonies beautiful dimension. Dorff employed himself as percussion on several songs, slapping, tapping, and clapping his way into the spotlight, and Moore brought things back into focus by sitting on the edge of the stage for an unamplified rendition of “Flyrock Blues”. Other songs of note were “Sweet Marie” and “Dear Companion”, based on a goodbye letter written by a trapped miner and the only song on the album to be written for the project by both Sollee and Moore.

Late in the show, the group came together to share a mic and perform a couple of a capella folk tunes, furthering paying homage to the rich musical history of their home. People’s surroundings inevitably influence their creations, and by the end of the night one wondered if the landscape would be the region’s only casualty.

For more info on mountaintop removal, click here.
Check out our photos from the show: album | slideshow.

Something, Somewhere, Somehow, My Wealth Comes to Me, Needn’t Say A Thing, Only A Song, Dear Companion, Flyrock Blues, Try, Sweet Marie, + a sampling of covers & solo work

and if i’ve wounded you, i’m sorry – i had good intentions

A mix of sadness and hope pervades Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore’s Dear Companion, a sentiment that makes sense for a collaboration hoping to draw attention to the destruction of mountaintop removal coal mining that is occurring in and around their Kentucky home. Sollee and Moore recruited fellow Kentuckian Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk) to produce and contribute, and a contemplative ode to the region was born.

The songs on Dear Companion range from instrumental interludes (“Wilson Creek”) and sweet meditations appropriate for creekside autumn days (“Flyrock #2) to slow reservation yielding to joy peeking through (“Try”).

Deep cello and thumping banjo dominate “Something, Somewhere, Sometime”, while Sollee’s playing takes a different tack on “Sweet Marie” with beautiful swells that envelop plaintive vocals and lead in horns and haunted, drifting calls. Unique is the mid-album title track, frantic and lurching, slinking along in the velvet black of night.

Dear Companion drops on 02/16/10.
Download “Something, Somewhere, Sometime” here.
A portion of proceeds from Dear Companion will go to Appalachian Voices, dedicated to ending mountaintop removal.