An Ear To The Earth
★ ★ ★ ★
Opening with a rumbling tuba, Mark Moldre’s second album has you thinking he could be an Aussie version of Tom Waits. But he’s a sweeter singer. Produced by Bluebottle Kiss’s Jamie Hutchings, Moldre delivers vivid vignettes of the lost and lonesome. “You can know where you are and still be lost” he decrees in the downbeat standout, I Don’t Know What’s Become Of Her. He also sings “There are cliches all over the world, because they’re true.” But An Ear To The Earth is filled with delightful detours, switching from blues to roots to jazz. Very tasty indeed. Jeff Jenkins
An Ear To The Earth
8 April, 2013
An Ear To The Earth is the follow-up to Mark Moldre’s debut solo album The Waiting Room, an accomplished set of folk-tinged indie rock songs that no doubt gave him the confidence and curiosity to dig deeper into his own songwriting and explore some of the more diverse corners of his musical influences that feature on this excellent album.
The impact of Moldre’s broader palette hits immediately on the opener Everything I Need, a stomping, clattering Tom Waits-ish jazz lurch with a glorious clarinet courtesy of Lee Hutchings. Beneath the old time exterior the song is an ode to a loved one, a declaration of contentment and one of the two most direct lyrical turns on the album. The other is Killer Anxiety, with its bright and uplifting calypso swing belying the song’s dark and honest subject matter concerning panic attacks.
Jamie Hutchings produced the album, and the two share a love of the dismantled and fragmented percussion that populates many of the songs. It gives them a wonderful organic, spacious and brittle feel, and they were very judicious in where they placed the ramshackle elements across the record. The other aspect of the record that stands out is Moldre’s voice; a maturing, world-weary instrument full of grain and character. He is now singing within the songs rather than pushing them along as he may have in the past, and it contributes to some beautiful and emotionally rich moments like the warm and dreamy Madeleine, the jazz croon ofLast Card and the delicate chaos of the closer O, Dreamtime Blues. An Ear To The Earth is exactly what you want from an artist – a record that shows they’re stretching themselves, expanding their art and reverentially experimenting with the great art of songwriting.
★ ★ ★ ★
There is a clear and concerted shift from the mostly alt-folk of Mark Moldre’s first solo release, The Waiting Room, to the eclectic mix of sounds found on his second solo effort, An Ear To The Earth. Moldre, a gifted lyricist and melody-maker, manages to piece together different styles, both coherently and beautifully: from the swoony polka sounds and brass instrumentation onEverything I Need Is Here, to the romantic, flamenco-esque guitar work and smoky vocals on Madeleine, and then to a track like Killer Anxiety, whose upbeat pace is at odds with its serious subject matter. Each listen procures more and more appreciation for the varied and purposeful release that is An Ear To The Earth. Katie Davern