Nov/Dec 1999 Music Review

Breaking Down to 3

Dave Moore
Copyright August, 1999
Red House Records

reviewed by Tom Dooley

I might as well be up-front about it. The rest of this review is going to be a shameless attempt on my part to encourage everyone to buy Dave Moore's new album. Why? Because this album is wonderful. Chances are good, you will like this album the first time you hear it, and you will grow to love it more with each listen. Dave Moore deserves to be well compensated for bringing such an album into existence. Go. Go out and buy it. Because if more people buy this album, maybe more artists will make albums that approach this level of quality.

This is the kind of album that transcends the folk genre from which it originates. If you like Dire Straits, Greg Brown, Johnny Cash; if you're into country, rock, blues, or folk; if you like music, I'm betting you'll be blown away by this album.

It's the musical equivalent of the perfectly broken-in pair of Levi's. You can dress it up or dress it down. Play it while your date watches the embers in the fireplace and sips that expensive Claret you bought for the occasion. Play it while your "buddies" are cleaning you out on poker night. Crank it up loud enough so you can hear it over the power tools as you remodel your dining room. This album is about class, durability, and timeless appeal.

First, there are the songs. All written by Dave Moore. The first, "Mr. Music," makes it clear exactly what this album is trying to accomplish. "Hey Mr. Music... come back to me... all the record deals and every little promo pack drove you away..." Moore tells us right up front he wants to get back to "the heart of a song." In the hands of a lesser artist, such a stand would be pretentious and cliched, but Moore delivers exactly what he advertises.

The reason Dave Moore is NOT a lesser artist is he has truly paid his dues. He's honed his skills as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, harmonica and accordian player for over three decades. He's worked on oil rigs and wandered South America. He's sought out, played with and learned from old-timers like blues legends Hammie Nixon, R.L. Burnside, and Furry Lewis; accordian players like Johnny Degallado and Santiago Jimenez Sr.; and current folk greats like Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey. Ramsey, who produced Greg Brown's grammy award winning album Slant 6 Mind, produces this album, and all-Iowa cast of musicians give these songs so much life that you'd think they would jump right out of your speakers if they weren't having so much fun dancing around in there.

I could go on, but the truth is that there aren't many superlatives I could use that haven't already been applied by critics from all over the country. Dirty Linen says "[Dave Moore] works the mic as if he was letting us in on the secrets of the world." No Depression says Breaking Down to 3 is a sublime, moving tour-de-force... straight up, tight on the rail, no excuses." CMJ New Music Report says "Moore is one of the great unsung instrumentalists and songwriters of our day." Buscadero says "Destined to become one of the most true and interesting voices of American music writers... one of the most expressive vocals you have ever heard." Twin Cities Reader: "Moore's originals are memorable tunes honed in so many classic North American music forms you'd have to consult the Library of Congress to catch their deep continental drifts." That last one was pretty cool. If I were a recording artist, I'd love to have someone say that about my stuff.

Well, here's a rave from me: if I had get rid of all my cd's but ten, one of the ones I'd keep* would be Dave Moore's Breaking Down to 3.

On a groovy factor scale of one to five, we're talking a five or better here.


*If you're curious about the other nine, click here.


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