John Moreland’s In The Throes is Essential Listening. I’ve been writing for Nine Bullets for about two years and in that time I’ve written thirty or so album reviews and listened to countless other records. In The Throes isn’t just the best record released so far this year, it’s the best record I’ve heard since I began with Nine Bullets and I don’t know how many years before that. That was the easy part of the review, everything after this is the hard part.
Moreland’s last several records have continuously rocked less and less but the songwriting keeps improving. There are drums and electric guitars on In The Throes but the focus is on these ten songs. And these ten songs are gigantic. A Twitter friend of mine tweeted out several weeks ago that “everyone he knows who writes songs is crazy about the new John Moreland.” Obviously, that’s not the exact quote and I can’t remember who it was. But the point was made: John Moreland is a songwriter’s songwriter.
So what makes these ten songs so great? I’ve had the record over a month, listened to it dozens and dozens of times and I don’t have an answer. There are incredible lines throughout and I considered listing a bunch here but thought it would be cooler if people listed one or two of their favorites in the comments.
There is no doubt that there is sadness and pain in these songs. And I don’t know if there is redemption here or not, but there is redemption and comfort in sad songs. There is solidarity in the fact that someone else has felt the emotions I’ve felt alone in my home and that someone was able to write about it and share. That’s one of the reasons I find so much joy in sad songs.
There’s been times in my life that things have been really shitty and one of the things that saved me was the music of Townes Van Zandt. I know that sounds melodramatic and all, but so be it. I only said it so you would appreciate what I’m about to say. With the ten songs on In The Throes, John Moreland has shown himself to be the closest thing to the ghost of Townes Van Zandt walking the earth.
If you read Nine Bullets every day, or once a week, or once a month you need to own this album. It is a monumental work in our little corner of the musical universe. Period.