When you find yourself playing an album straight through for the fourth time running, you know something is going right. Moore Moss Rutter’s latest album, the imaginatively named ‘II’, is an absolute tour de force- the perfect mix of verve, originality and a respectful acknowledgement of the music’s historical roots. Fiddle, guitar and melodeon combine to create a sound that is much, much more than the sum of its parts. Whether it’s hypnotising the listener with the soft cadences of the final tune ‘Idle’ (written by Moss about a band member’s clock that ticks but never tells the correct time) or forcing the room to get up on their feet and dance along to the beautiful harmonies and steadily building pace of the first track ‘Barrows’, this album has something for everyone.
Whilst listening to the beautifully soaring fiddle of Tom Moore, I couldn’t help thinking that this album reminded me of nothing else more than Chaos Theory. Whilst the album can sound in parts like a brilliantly crowded, out of control festival, under the surface it becomes clear that these musicians are incredibly skilled and that each song is crafted minutely, giving the impression of ease whilst simultaneously displaying great complexity. This comes as no surprise from Moore Moss Rutter, a group that has been a rising star on the folk scene since they won the 2011 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. Their subtle mix of modern, electro-acoustic elements and traditional styles to create an intoxicating take on many old folk tunes makes for compelling listening: for example, the group’s innovative interpretation of the tune ‘Jenny Pluck Pears’, from Playford’s ‘English Dancing Master’ of 1653, is a haunting, ghostly waltz-like piece that seems to hang in the air long after the music is finished.
The gorgeous simplicity of the two-tone album cover and the album’s very name counterpoint the complexity of the group’s performance, and I find myself being immensely impressed with the unity and balance the music displays between the three members. Each instrument is allowed an equal space to weave its magic, making it all the more stunning when they all come together again to form a strong wave of sound. This is accompanied on some tracks by singing, an element that brings stories to life in the music- in ‘Wait for the Wagon’ Jack Rutter’s rough, honest voice, gives the American song a time-worn air that fits in well with the other tunes in the album. Indeed, there are so many fascinating aspects and depths of Moore Moss Rutter’s album that one can’t help just playing it again… and again… and again.