Performing at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville Tuesday night, July 11, is critically acclaimed songwriter John Moreland of Tulsa, who recently released his fourth solo album “Big Bad Luv” on May 5 and is a critics’ favorite among the likes of NPR, Associated Press, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and many others.
The show begins at 8:30 with opener Travis Linville. Tickets are only $12 and are available online. ShindigMusic! & George’s are giving away two pairs of tickets on the ShindigMusic! Facebook page; contest ends at 4 pm day of show.
Big Bad Luv marks a change in Moreland’s sound and outlook on life. With lyrics that are as intense and unfiltered as on his earlier work, Moreland delves into finding peace within. He also branches out sonically on the new album, which is injected with a heavier dose of rock ‘n’ roll in comparison to the tone of his previous recordings. He plays with a full band as opposed to much of his earlier solo, acoustic work.
But it’s his songwriting that seriously stands out.
“It’s been a while since American folk music has seen the likes of a songwriter that is able to cut as deep as John Moreland,” says the Utne Reader.
In early 2016, Moreland made his national television debut with an unprecedented booking on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” It was a compelling performance in which he received an enthusiastic and rare late-night standing ovation:
Moreland’s 2015 release “High on Tulsa Heat” was embraced by the press, receiving accolades from major media outlets including Pitchfork, Rolling Stone Country and American Songwriter, which published: “Lines like that ought to make even the surliest barflies put down their drinks and listen. And if they don’t feel it, it’s time to call a cab. Or rehab.”
Moreland capped off his banner year with a nomination for Emerging Artist Of The Year from the Americana Music Association.
“Moreland sings heartwrenching lyrics in an earthy voice that sounds worn in beyond his 29 years,” wrote The Wall Street Journal.
The beauty in John Moreland’s writing is his ability to make the listener feel, and according to Moreland, he’s used his songwriting as a way to exorcise negative feelings and move on. His therapy is the listener’s gain, as “Big Bad Luv” has an uplifting yet still emotionally dark tone. The brutal honesty of Moreland’s singing and songwriting has touched listeners across the country. He silences rooms from dive bars to, more recentl,y the historic Ryman Auditorium.
Moreland wasn’t always a folk guy. Having played his first show by age 14, by the early 2000s during his high school years, he played in local punk and hardcore bands, including local metalcore Oklahoma band, Thirty Called Arson.
Moreland put together the Black Gold Band in 2005, and released “Endless Oklahoma Sky” in 2008. In 2009, he recorded the follow-up “Things I Can’t Control” at Armstrong Recording in Tulsa.
Largely self-performed and self-produced, Moreland makes music that is influenced by his Oklahoma roots, dubbed by one critic as “gloriously and joyfully heartbreaking.” He has released a rushing stream of records (in 2011, he put out two full albums and two Eps).
Citing Steve Earle as his “gateway” to folk music, he switched genres from hardcore to folk when he heard Earle’s song “Rich Man’s War,” Moreland has been quoted as saying. Other influences he’s mentioned: Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt.
Moreland is called “a songwriter’s songwriter” by critics and fans alike. American TV news host and political commentator Rachel Maddow tweeted praise of Moreland’s work: “If the American music business made any sense, guys like John Moreland would be household names. (Moreland jokes that her remark was “the first time his dad has agreed with Rachel Maddow.” He has since opened for Jason Isbell, Dawes, and Patty Griffin. Three of his songs, “Heaven,” “Gospel,” and “Your Spell,” have been featured on the TV show “Sons of Anarchy.”