Moriarty: Gee Whiz but this is a Lonesome Town (Carte!l/Border)

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Moriarty: Fireday
Moriarty: Gee Whiz but this is a Lonesome Town (Carte!l/Border)

In an odd reversal of the journey Marianne Dissard took -- from France to Arizona to create Fanco-alt.country -- this group fronted by Rosemary Moriarty out of Ohio (they are Ramones-like all called Moriarty) have an established following in France where they reside for their alt.country, old time folk.

With harmonica, double bass, acoustic guitars, a suitcase played as a drum, Jew's harp, xylophone and other low-key often lo-fi sounds, this has a backporch or barnyard recording feel to it -- but this is no retro-wish fulfillment.

The subjects here are contemporary: a young woman enlisting to get a study grant and eneding up toting an M-16 into a war zone (Private Lily); cultural and economic imperialism (Whiteman's Ballad); a psychedelic-influenced lyric which implies misdeeds in the Catholic Church (Lovelinesse) . . .

Aside from Rosemary it seems the other musicians are all French (or ended up there, Charles grew up in Peru) but they have a fine understanding of alt.Americana and their sound is referenced in old blues, country and folk in a way which seems natural to them.

Rosemary, at times when she lets her voice gain strength, reaches towards Janis Joplin (at her rather more restrained) and there is a European thatrical quality evident throughout also in the suggestions of cabaret-noir. I imagine they present this music in an interesting way at shows.

So not a name that may be familiar but they have understandably drawn praise from the Guardian ("a ramshackle old world acoustic outfit" ****), the Evening Standard ("the finest talent on the alt psycfolk scene") and the French who gave them a gold disc.

This, as I understand it, is their 2008 debut re-presented and they have done a couple of albums since -- but this seems as smart a place as any to tune in.

An American in Paris, anyone? 

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