The Moaners new album, Nocturnal, lives up to its name. Most of these songs sound like they are meant to be played after dark and the brightest of them sounds like dusk.
Despite this limited tonal palate, Nocturnal has great variety in style. It kicks off with a drum machine beat on the lively “Humid Air”, but quickly moves on to tunes with more grit (“Cowboy Bob”) and somberness (“Raggedy”). There’s a dryness to the sound, particularly from the drums, that gives the album an open and crisp feel like fall leaves crunching underfoot.
What ties it all together is lead singer Melissa Swingle’s distinct voice. She uses all of her vocal flaws to her advantage, like sliding into pitches, to create music that feels unique.
The album feels comfortable through out, but really hits its stride when alcohol is involved. “Ramblin” could get any bar rocking, especially with lines like “Lord, I need a breathalyzer/ for my telephone.” The alcoholic in “Moonshiner” claims “The whole world is a bottle/ and life is but a dream/ and when the bottle gets empty/ Lord, it sure ain’t worth a damn” and it’s lyrics like these that really make this album memorable.
One final touch that rounds out the album is the wonderful piano accents played throughout by Earl Poole Ball of the Johnny Cash band.
The Moaners have managed to be diverse without losing sense of who they are making Nocturnal a confident and balanced release.
Nocturnal is out now on Holidays for Quince Records.