Photo by John Vettese
Folkadelphia Session: Shannen Moser
Word of mouth is still the best way to find out about music, so I am entirely and constantly indebted to John Vettese of WXPN and The Key for cluing me (and many blog readers and radio listeners) in to amazing artistic endeavors, especially when it comes from our hometown of Philadelphia, like this week’s in-studio session featuring Shannen Moser and our first collaboration with The Key. In the past, music sometimes did not make it to listeners because of gatekeepers; if you weren’t signed to a label, weren’t played on a radio station, weren’t part of the music biz mechanism, you might not be heard. Nowadays the problem is an excess of content, as the Internet people would say. Try to take in all of the art, music, writing, videos online and you quickly become an oversoaked sponge. That’s why people like John Vettese are so crucial. So I’ll repeat, I am entirely and constantly indebted to John Vettese for pointing us to Shannen Moser.
I have a new relationship with Moser’s music, just starting to listen when I heard her recently released album Oh, My Heart. I knew I was in the right place when she began her album with a Sacred Harp/Shape Singing passage “I’m glad that I am born to die, / From grief and woe my soul shall fly, / And I don’t care to stay here long!” which unbound from religious text does seem like an emotionally fraught inner thought. And while Sacred Harp Singing is very communal and Oh, My Heart is in many ways a solitary expedition, I can imagine that the songs are a community of thoughts and feelings all rising up inside Moser, making their way out in each track.
As she does here for our in-studio session, Shannen Moser surrounds herself with band members Eric Muth, Julia Peters, and Joe Evers whose tasteful instrumentation instill a sharpness, an additional captivating hook, to the performance. However, the music at its core is simple, lovely, and filled with moments of sadness and grief and beauty and joy. Finish the album and you might express to yourself “Oh, my heart!”