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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: Josh Moore

	osh Moore is a member of local group Drughorse Collective, which unites musicians from numerous projects, including members of Mount Moriah, Ryan Gustafson, Twelve Thousand Armies, The Light Pines and more. Moore will open for The Tomahawks at Local 506 tomorrow night. Photo courtesy of Stephen Charles

osh Moore is a member of local group Drughorse Collective, which unites musicians from numerous projects, including members of Mount Moriah, Ryan Gustafson, Twelve Thousand Armies, The Light Pines and more. Moore will open for The Tomahawks at Local 506 tomorrow night. Photo courtesy of Stephen Charles

It’s often said that in the end, man’s common denominators are death and taxes — and everyone knows taxes don’t make good rock ‘n’ roll.

Thus, Carrboro musician Josh Moore’s latest single is defined by a concept that none of us know but all of us will ultimately experience. Death is the focus of his latest effort, and despite the morbidity inherent in such a subject, Moore maintains a sense of lightness and optimism that’s both moving and alluring.

He’s far from the first to delve into this topic, but that doesn’t make his Be Not Afraid & How Sweet the Sound any less engaging. In the wake of two songs coated in mortality, Moore has accomplished an unexpected revival, crafting two pop spirituals that echo far past their approximately seven-minute run time.

The single gains most of its efficacy from its simple, gospel-tinged lyrics. Both tracks are steeped in echoed choruses, and although this would render many records redundant, it plays to Moore’s favor. On “How Sweet the Sound,” he repeats, “Bury me beside my mother/That’s the place where I belong/I’m coming home to meet my maker/Before the sun reaches the dawn.”

It’s nothing particularly innovative, but when you can manipulate a beloved template so well, why veer from it? Moore reinvents a form steeped in history for a modern audience, and it works.

There’s an earnestness inherent in these songs, especially “Be Not Afraid,” in which Moore sings, “If it is my time, and I must go away/I will be not afraid.” It’s a bold claim, but as the choruses build, the songwriter’s faith in his own words is convincing.

The hopefulness in Moore’s words and the simple, tender melodies are more potent than most Bible belt sermons, because his message doesn’t follow the same brand of fire and brimstone: it’s quiet, a whisper that has more resonance than a shout.

Religious or not, there’s plenty of room for listeners to admire these spirituals without any sense of judgment.

In light of such memorable, straightforward prose, the harmonies and delicate instrumentation shine. Mandolin Orange’s Emily Frantz provides bell-clear harmonies, an ideal counterpart to Moore’s similarly pristine vocals.
There’s a Bible verse that says love “does not boast, it is not proud.” The same can be said for Moore’s quiet, meditative songs on death. If only every brush with spirituality and mortality had such beautiful resonance.

Contact the Diversions Editor at dive@unc.edu.

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