When Sub Pop sent out the press release, they told of a man possessed by a Steinway inside a Cincinnati radio station. If this is possession, perhaps we shouldn’t be so inclined to shy away from such things because this new record from Daniel Martin Moore, In the Cool of the Day, is quite beautiful–perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can see the genius clearly.
Honestly, writing gospel songs for those outside the gospel seems a bit odd to me, but the entirety of In the Cool of the Day has Moore reinventing classics he heard growing up, or going it on his own. For instance, “Dark Road” definitely has that swing in the step you would envision being sung in some Southern Baptist church. The string instruments definitely provide that bluegrass feeling at the same time, so you get a bit of both life in church and outside.
He’s got some funky elements thrown in, demonstrating that Moore is out to illustrate his talent as a compser/songwriter. “In the Garden” has some light hi-hat, and that walking bass line that many will immediately associate with jazz. But, Daniel has this angelic voice, and his control over pitch and tone really allows him to pull some honest emotions out of listeners. However, it’s his numbers when he sounds more like the elemental folk musician from Kentucky that really piqued my interest.
For instance, you can take “Up Above My Head,” and apply it to more modern artists such as Mason Jennings, though this definitely doesn’t have that humorous pep Jennings carries. It’s got a funky little groove that sort of pushes it on, yet there’s a definite pop feel to the way Daniel Martin Moore sings the vocal that takes it beyond a mere gospel song. It even has a bit of a banjo/guitar breakdown near the end. These things don’t really apply to church tracks, the ones I know, at least. The title track, “In the Cool of the Day,” also goes beyond church, although it relies predominantly on the piano backbone to elevate the solemn melody. Still, Moore uses his voice as a tool to take the track somewhere else, almost like Sufjan Stevens.
Personally, “It Is Well With My Soul” hits a note for me, and that’s probably because it’s the most recognizable gospel track that I know of, as I haven’t been much of a church goer in some time. Perhaps I can envision myself singinig this at some campfire, with my father playing his guitar, trying to get the family involved. This is pretty much the way a lot of people will feel about In the Cool of the Day. You take a religious background, even a mild exposure, and you elaborate, almost pushing the spirit out of the church doors and into the rest of the world. This is precisely what Daniel Martin Moore has done, and while I may not be your favorite listen this year, it’s assuredly worth several spins around the record player.
Download: Daniel Martin Moore – Dark Road [MP3]