Sometimes in the midst of everyone trying to inject new sounds into the genre, it’s nice to hear a classic country voice. Craig Moreau is just that: to me, he’s might be a new George Strait. His recent album, The Daredevil Kid, is a tribute to the kind of music that characterized neo-trad country of the 80s.
Filled with arrangements that tend towards the simpler side, the album lets Moreau’s songwriting and rich voice dominate. A wistful sentiment governs the album; it seems he (or his characters) are intent on ruminating past mistakes while trying to look ahead to a future of possibility. Songs like the title track see the protagonist return to creative work after giving it up for a day job and child-rearing, whereas others like “Sweet Luanne” spin verbose narratives about mysterious and troubled characters.
I’m partial to the really country tunes, always a sucker for the melancholy that a bit of steel guitar can evoke, like it does on “Stranded”; others such as “Casey, Illinois” rely only on the instrument’s gentle accents and a guitar picking in the background, highlighting the tale of distance-generated heartbreak.
Well, the reason the pedal steel is so strong is it’s played by longtime Blue Rodeo/Cowboy Junkies member Kim Deschamps. The band is filled out by guest appearances by Gurf Morlix, Kevin Welch, and Elana James. Producer Mark Hallman (Carole King, Tom Russell, Ani Difranco) takes on the bulk of playing duties, appearing on drums, mandolin, banjo, and Hammond B3, among others. But all of these perqs are just that: accents to a collection of solidly written songs.
Moreau is touring throughout the year; his album and dates can be found on his website. Meantime, check out the opening track below.