After a couple of listens to tracks from L-Mo, the hipper on-stage name of songwriter Luke
Mosely, there’s one over-riding feeling in this reviewer’s head, and a smile on his face. These
are songs that catch you by surprise, and like an upbeat friend fill you with cheer just by their
presence. Given that I’ve spent years imagining different tortures to be meted out to the banal
Bobby McFerrin for his atrocious ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ – a song that makes me anxious from its
overbearingly twee opening through to its interminable fade out – it’s no small thing.
There’s an interesting dual direction going on here. On the one hand the songs are all, without
exception, nice – and that’s not damning with faint praise; they don’t roar or rage, nor do they
outstay their welcome. There are great choruses, memorable lines, and foot-tapping beats. In
short, they’re all well-groomed and presentable. But, at the same time there’s something decidely
unpredictable going on, with interesting sounds and beat-boxing thrown into the mix. It’s a sound
that’s all his own, and which he rightly describes as “upbeat adrenaline fueled anti-folk”
Contagious puts it well, hard as it is to resist. It starts with a soft almost crooning
intro, before quickly breaking into something more interesting. We have an acoustic guitar
leading things on, but it leaps and lurches dismissing any suggestion of singer-songwriter
lyrical excess syndrome. Here’s the truth – so many ‘singer-songwriters’ are blessed (if they’re
lucky) with a decent voice, some good lines, and an inability to play more than three chords in
turn. If they could do more, we wouldn’t feel the need to qualify things more than just
‘songwriter’. It’s not a problem that L-mo faces.
Simple Living is a great tune, but it reveals the one weakness – while he’s got dynamics, soul, and composition all down perfectly, the lyrics here are not going to win any pulitzers. Then again, that’s probably not a great concern of his. We’re in similar territory charted by Jack Johnson (‘where did all the good people go’) or closer to home (he’s currently based in Leeds) Newton Faulkner (‘people should smile more’). It’s all upbeat and enthusiastic, but the banality of its anti-consumerism pitch grates slightly in these pinched times.
Remember to Forget has enough musical twists and turns to keep anyone on their toes and yet retains a theme throughout meaning it’s far more than just a whigged-out impro session. Deeply impressive.