Moses Atwood, Moses Atwood | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Moses Atwood, Moses Atwood 

Album Review

Moses Atwood, Moses Atwood
  • Moses Atwood, Moses Atwood

(Marrow Music, CD)

In exchange for his soul, the Devil allegedly offered Robert Johnson the ability to play the guitar as no man before him ever had. One fateful October night at a crossroads in Mississippi, Johnson became “King of the Delta Blues,” and his mortal soul the property of Satan himself. On his hauntingly gritty yet bracingly intimate eponymous debut album, wandering minstrel Moses Atwood displays the similarly ragged sound of man who may well have made his own Faustian bargain with the Prince of Darkness.

The disc begins with “Woman, Angel, Demon, Child.” Atwood unleashes formidable chops with sinister acoustic guitar lines that evoke baleful backwoods blues. But it’s the songwriter’s visceral lyricism that chills the bones and suggests an otherworldly pact. “When you need a little child / Mother, you can stroke my hair. / And when you need a reason / Woman, I’ve got the kind of flesh you can tear,” he sings in a tortured growl.

Atwood finds redemption in the arms of a former lover on the following track, “Seventh Sin.” The tune is a tender, aching ballad that examines the inherent frailties and failings of the flesh. Again, his writing is grave and vivid, but delivered with wistful sincerity. “Your heart leaps into your throat. / The poison and the antidote / is asking if you want some tea. / Your bodies don’t know that you broke up in December. / They just know they go together,” he sings over nimbly finger-picked guitar.

The record continues with Atwood similarly vacillating between themes of damnation and salvation. By album’s end, listeners will likely feel as though they’ve experienced a little of both themselves.

Atwood’s debut is as notable for what it lacks as it is for the remarkable material it contains. At no point on the record are more than two or three instruments played simultaneously and, save for a few fleeting glimpses from backing vocalist Meghan Yates, Atwood’s is the only voice. Though sparsely arranged, the album never feels thin, as the songwriter’s uniquely full-bodied guitar work fills as much space as necessary — and no more. Producer David Goodrich adds bits of piano, electric and acoustic guitars and banjo. But his work is complementary. Atwood remains the focus entirely. Would the Devil have it any other way?

Did Moses Atwood meet The Deceiver at a crossroads? Probably not. But at the very least, he sounds as though he’s a man who has confronted his own demons more than a few times in the shadowy corners of a darkened mind. May God have mercy on his soul.

Moses Atwood plays a slew of Vermont gigs this week. Check this week’s listings to find one near you.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Bio:
Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox... more

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation