Moses Atwood by Dog & Pony
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Moses Atwood sets sail with sophomore effort, One Bright Boat
It’s been four years since singer/songwriter Moses Atwood (also known for his work with Johnson’s Crossroad and The Overflow Jug Band) released his self-titled debut. That was in 2008; suddenly last fall Atwood decided it was time to put together his new collection of songs, One Bright Boat. So he rounded up a group of musicians and headed to Waking Studio, the new digs of Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog) in Philadelphia. There, Atwood and company knocked out the nine tracks in a mere week. The songs, he says, were culled from the years since his first album. While some date back to when he lived in Maine, most were written in North Carolina over the last few years.
Atwood choose Waking Studio because he wanted to take his musicians (including Michael Libramento of Floating Action) out of their routines. And it was time: “I’d found so many ways of circumventing the actual making of the record that I was like, ‘book the dates, get the people and do it.’” A week is a push, but, Atwood says, “Limitations are a really valuable thing in any artistic process — how many limitations and how you impose them is the trick.”
One Bright Boat doesn’t sound pressured or hurried. It opens with rollicking piano, the easy jingle of tambourine and tasteful flourishes of guitar. Atwood’s voice is what colors in the picture, relaxed and rich, rising effortlessly in a warm baritone.
“I’m tired of being the sad man, tired of all the sad songs. I’m tired of living my life like I’ve done something wrong,” he imparts on the spirit-lifting, cloud-parting title track.
If Atwood’s first record paid homage to his troubadour heroes (Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips), One Bright Boat is less road-weary and more refined as Atwood leaves the minstrel role for that of bandleader in the style of Van Morrison and Randy Newman.
Running like a current through the record is Atwood’s talent for telling a story in fleeting images and washes of sound. These aren’t ballads but modern song-sketches of places longed for and passed through, people met and parted with, time passing. There’s space on each track — an easy flow of tides and waltzes (“California”), of pedal steel accents and Atwood’s comfortable flannel-and-bourbon vocal polished with (on “At Last”) gospel and brass.
“In recording, I feel like you’re recreating or capturing a moment in time,” says Atwood. “With modern recording you’re at constant great risk of losing the value of the moment, losing the essence of what you’ve got going on. But if you go all for capturing the moment, you don’t have a record, you just have a live performance. There’s a balance that the best records achieve.”
For a young artist, Atwood comes admirably close to that balance. It’s an album that rings both fresh and familiar, of-a-time and timeless. With One Bright Boat, Atwood’s ship comes in.
Album release date: Saturday, March 30.
Raised in Damariscotta, Maine and currently based in Asheville, North Carolina, Moses Atwood came to music circuitously. Singing was first (with his dad, in the car), but he was 19 before he picked up a harmonica after a Blues Traveler concert, and then a guitar. “That was it,” says Atwood. “Music has pretty much been at the center of my life ever since.”
Which is not to say that he immediately started a band and launched a tour. Instead, Atwood learned to build guitars and studied for stints at Berklee College of Music and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music before releasing his inaugural album in his hometown. The debut was met with success — enough success, in fact, to send Atwood (whose stage moniker is an assumed name; he was born Matthew Chase) fleeing fame for anonymity. A plan to tour the American byways in a converted van was abandoned when Atwood reached Asheville. He’d quickly tired of living on the road and was soon embraced by the dynamic music scene.
With One Bright Boat, Atwood assumes his rightful place as a front man, releasing a fully-realized and mature collection of songs that take their cues as much from the American landscape as from personal reflection.
“A soulful, gritty, passionate, pleading, tormented and gutsy
welcoming into the world of Atwood; musician, storyteller,
and a guy who sounds like he’s been travelling the country
by boxcar for the past 100 years fromt the swamp land to the
promised land and back.”
-The Portland Press Herald
“Moses Atwood never simply owns a room
— he recreates it in his own image.”
-Northeast performer magazine
“Atwood is a throwback and a visionary.”
“Songs that bridge the gap between
Mississippi John Hurt, and Townes Van Zandt.”
-The Boston Globe
“His self-titled debut is a stunning collection of dirty
Delta-blues-flavored ruminations on life, death and all
the devils, angels and whiskey bottles one meets
in the interim.”
-The Seven Days (Burlington, VT)
“Moses Sings with a century-old soul and writes songs
like the bastard child of tom waits.”
“It’s rough and tumble when you’re faced with
a Mainer with attitude.”
“Portland’s latest pure, unadulterated talent.”
-Sam Pfeifle, The Portland Phoenix
“The most striking aspect of Atwood’s performance is the sheer amount of
heart hepours into each song. While many talented vocalists get the job
done and do it well,Atwood brings more of himself to the table, an
investment which seems to bridge the gap between him and the audience.”
- Matt Desenberg, The Wire