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It doesn’t take long to realize that Marlaena Moore‘s new album, Gaze, is something special and immensely unique. Sure Gazes focuses on the difficult life of a person, but this isn’t a puff record where all Moore does is share her feelings for 30-plus minutes.Rather, Moore’s songwriting is poignant and thoughtful, and the stories and analogies the resident of Edmonton, Alberta uses to describe her feelings and experiences are humourous and even cringe-worthy. Gaze, as such, at times feels more like a psychological and sociological examination of love than eight songs that are meant to entertain. But that’s where Moore’s brilliance lies – to be able to make the listener thing, contemplate, and assess her or his surroundings and situations.
Very few singer-songwriters are able to match Moore’s studious approach. Names like Sharon Van Etten, Katie Crutchfield (a.k.a. Waxahatchee), Angel Olsen, and Courtney Barnett come to mind, as well as another artist (whom we’ll name later), which demonstrates the talents of this young artist. On “24 Hour Drugstore”, for instance, showcases her creativity. For the first nearly three minutes of the song, Moore describes the products available at the drugstore before revealing being left by her loved one on Christmas Eve. While it is easy then to interpret that the drugstore is where Moore spent her Christmas Eve “buying everything that I need”, the drugstore represents the one dependable thing in her life as well as displaying her loneliness and abandonment.
“You’ll Absolutely Die” is a lovely tune, where Moore’s voice hovers over the strums of an electronic guitar. The story, though, is the opposite, telling the story of a young woman constantly on the move and no place to truly call home. “Sidekick” might be the most gut-wrenching song on the album, as Moore describes a young woman’s struggles with self-confidence and the image she has of herself, which in turn causes her to do anything and be anything (like a “domestic whore”) in order to be loved.
The title track may be the album’s most stunning song, at least musically. This slow-building, jangle-rocker is terrific with the story to match and a little guitar riff that is extremely catchy. Similar to “Sidekick”, “Gaze” deals with a person’s self-perception and autonomy, where one’s image is only seen through the eyes of someone else. The song echoes Katie Crutchfield musically and lyrically:
“I see your shadow, another gaze
I took your eyes and replaced them with my mind
And the one you like is left behind
I can’t stop looking at myself through you…
Every single thing I do
Baby it was all for you
Every move I make is all for you”
The album’s fine two songs are piano-driven, where Moore slows things even further but without losing the edginess of her music and the brutal honesty of her lyrics. “Feel It” and “In Love Again” resonate with the lyrical prowess and emotional power of Fiona Apple. The former is spectacular – a haunting vibe and the song’s climax is crushing and cathartic. The latter is a solemn ballad of wanting to feel loved once more. It’s a song for everyone – not just the ones with a lonely heart but also a reminder for those who have a loved one to cherish what they have.
For music fans, especially those in Canada, it’s time to cherish great, young artists like Moore, Andy Shauf, and Ashley Shadow – a new generation of singer-songwriters who are willing to tackle tough subjects, tell immaculate and poignant stories, while creating music that is edgy and honest. Gaze is one of those albums, one that should be celebrated and which should be in every music fan’s library.
Marlaena Moore Tour Dates:
May 20th – Kelowna/Milk Crate Records
May 21st – Vancouver/Black Lab
May 22nd – Victoria/ Lucky Bar
May 24th – Vancouver/ Red Gate
May 25th – Kamloops/ Barnacle Records
May 26th – Medicine Hat/ Captains Cabin
May 27th – Regina/ The Mercury
May 28th – Saskatoon/ Vangelis
May 29th – Winnipeg/ Sad Boys Club
May 30th – Thunder Bay/ The Apollo
June 1st – Toronto/ Burdock
June 2nd – Ottawa/ Bar Robo
June 5th – Montreal/ Brasserie
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