Ian Moore, the Seattle-based, Austin, TX-born guitar player, singer and songwriter makes the proverbial renaissance man look lazy. Coming on the heels of Strange Days, his most successful record since his eponymous debut and despite a never-ending cycle of touring, Moore offers a new release of bright, blazing rock-n-roll that combines his legendary guitar prowess with radio-friendly songs that showcase his elastic, soul-inflected vocals.
“It’s a very different climate right now. When we hit a city, it doesn’t matter that i have 14 records, radio hits, etc. The only thing that matters is if we can really show up and leave the people feeling they saw something amazing. It keeps me hungry, and I like the challenge” says Moore.
For years, Ian has had his eyes on the challenges faced by musicians of every stripe, having experienced the spectrum of artist successes and tribulations over a nearly 30-year career. In response, he founded the artist’s healthcare alliance SMASH (Seattle Musicians Access to Sustainable Healthcare) and has joined the board of NARAS for the Pacific Northwest as governor and head of the advocacy committee.
You might have been surprised to hear Moore’s voice popping up on major network shows on prime time television this past year; several selections were prominently being featured as performances on both American Idol and The Voice (“Satisfied” and “Blue Sky”).
Moore’s story is often told and probably familiar to most critics; his initial record on Capricorn propelled him to national tours with the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top and Bob Dylan, acting in the acclaimed indie feature Sling Blade and having Ice Cube direct the video for his track “Harlem.”
Moore deviated from his initial blues-oriented guitar sound on subsequent records, touching on graceful pop songs and the psychedelic as well as British pub rock and deep Americana. Toronto and its 6 tracks represents
those influences in such a way that they have informed his songwriting, but is likely more recognizable as a strong collection of the kind of guitar rock his core fan base would respond to immediately.
On the triumphant “You Gotta Know My Name”, Moore lampoons rich, entitled hipster kids. “They get their marching orders from Pitchfork and fill their brains with coke and MDMA, looking for soul and depth”, Moore explains. “The chorus is a way of claiming my space as a person that has been slogging it out, in and out of fashion for most of my career, with a deeper sense of music, style and substance than the people that might quickly write me off.”
The anthemic “Lords of the Levee” is a contemporary, relevant take on the atmosphere of the U.S. right now.“ It’s an attack on group thought,” Moore says, “which is most typically shrouded in God and country, that allows people to do some really terrible things. I wrote it about the Alabama voters rights act, and how the people that opposed it used both God and country to justify their abhorrent behavior.”
And it captures Ian’s blistering live sound probably better than any recording he’s released in recent memory. The catchy, propulsive “Looking for the Sound” is a play on the record title “El Sonido Nuevo,” which he wrote with his last group, the Lossy Coils. “It comes from a Mighty Boosh skit, but the gist of the song is about what it is to be a touring musician, trying to build soul and culture, still believing the same things I believed when I was 18, and looking for open hearts and minds to feel it.”
On other tracks on the record, “Satellite” and the slightly outrageous “Rock N Roll,” Moore explores the underbelly of rock, the bright side and the dangers of living your life in the magic of midnight