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Todd Warner Moore’s ‘Spark’ is a subtle Americana masterpiece

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The best way I’ve found to describe Todd Warner Moore’s sound is this — he plays songs you want to hear when you’re sitting around a campfire with friends on a relaxing summer evening.

Even if you’re nowhere near an open flame, put on Moore’s new album “Spark” and you’re transported immediately to that precise spot. Moore also reminds me of that one friend almost everyone has at one point in their life. The person who’s talented, unassuming yet fun to be around once you get to know them. At least that’s the impression exhibited from his music.

One other thing to keep in mind with “Spark” is if you’re anything like me, you might need to give it a few listens before you’re sold on it.

Truth be told, at first I didn’t like it at all. Then, I came back to it and found myself enjoying certain songs, and then I found myself enjoying most of them, a feeling I would’ve never had reached had I not given it another shot. Part of the issue with that, I believe, is that the album doesn’t really do much to “wow” you right off the bat. It’s more subtle than that — it does the little things really well, the solid turns of phrases, the relaxing choruses, the thoughtful spirit behind the words. It takes time to discover, but it’s there.

It’s that easygoing nature of the songwriting and the Americana wrapped up in every song makes it an album you’ll like more if you’re already a fan of artists such as Neil Young, Van Morrison or Bob Dylan.

It’s also music that keeps to itself and doesn’t go out of its way to grab your throat. Likely the nature of Moore’s Midwestern background, as he’s a native of Kansas City who’s lived in Hong Kong for the past eight years. It’s acoustic singer/songwriter fodder with a heavy emphasis on storytelling. There’s love, there’s loss, and there’s reflection found throughout the album.

Some of my favorite lyrics include “To cling to our beliefs
Is to cast them to the wind
A net that falls on everything we see” from “Mess,” or

“And the winters,
Of quiet incertitude
Under this love, love, love, love ” from “Already There.”

Todd Moore 2Interestingly enough, as well, one of my favorite tracks on the album was the one at the end, “The Lens,” which is a “bonus” live track featuring Moore with Tea Thieves. It’s an upbeat, thoughtful romp that has a unique flare, likely aided by the inclusion of the Tea Thieves, which is a band started by Moore in Budapest with Jamie Howell,  Michael Kentish, and drummer Scott Finlayson. The band recorded three albums in 2001/2002 and released them online in 2013.

Moore’s solo work, including his latest album “Spark” at the end of the day, is constructed with pure, unadulterated high-quality songs. And really, as a music fan, what more could you ask for?

Check out Moore on Bandcamp, his website, Twitter and YouTube.

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