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In the Cool of the Day
Daniel Martin Moore In the Cool of the Day
Released 21 January 2011

Daniel Joseph Dorff, Daniel Martin Moore
Label Sub Pop
Length 30:30
Genre Folk
Website danielmartinmoore.com

What with Richard Dawkins ranting at the Pope like a man possessed by the spirit of Ian Paisley, and clever students openly flipping the Bronx salute at organized religion, it’s easy to forget what a source of inspiration it has been to artists down though the ages. As much as it feels out of keeping with the times, many artists continue to draw from scriptural sources. One prime example is Nick Cave, who trades in a kind of Songs of Praise for people who don’t like Songs of Praise. A lesser-known example is Daniel Martin Moore.

In the Cool of the Day wears its heart on its sleeve: Christian Country and Western. That may play well in rural Kentucky, but will struggle when transplanted from its native American soil. 'All Ye Tenderhearted' is a weary, Appalachian spiritual, reprised in 'Lay Down Your Lonesome Burden' as a Gettysburg-era reflection set to upright piano and the world’s smallest violin. It’s a sombre tone that pervades the album: successfully on 'Dark Road', which could be a Ralph Stanley number; less so on 'In the Cool of the Day', which excites no emotions beyond impatience and the feeling that there are better things to be doing than listening to this.

The album’s highlight (for there is just the one) is 'Up Above My Head'. Knowing the religious theme of the album, we can surmise that up above Daniel’s head dwell Jesus and friends; but ignorant of that, the song could pass for a cover of a Louis Armstrong or Tony Bennet standard with Stéphane Grappelli on violin. A nice song in its own right, but made to look so much better when surrounded by tepid Christian ditties.

Religion, like it or loathe it, can act as the wellspring for great music. Certainly we have Bach, Arvo Part, John Tavener and Mozart using it to our advantage. But we also had Sixteen Horsepower, a Denver group, recently disbanded (or reimagined as Woven Hand), who took the same raw material as Daniel Martin Moore and created some exhilarating music with it.

If Daniel Martin Moore has done anything with In the Cold Light of Day, it’s to remind us of Sixteen Horsepower. Strange times when religious music is a guilty pleasure, but I’m sure it can be forgiven.

- Paul McGranaghan