An ode to Little Moon (for Free at Noon) - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

NPR Tiny Desk contest winner Little Moon is the brainchild of singer-songwriter and guitarist Emma Hardyman, joined ever-so-delightedly by Nathan Hardyman (guitar), Bly Wallentine (bass), Grace Johnson (keyboard), Chris Shemwell (drums), and Bridget Jackson (harp (oh my goodness there’s a harp)). The group originated in Springville, Utah, whose vast, earthy landscape may explain how Little Moon became inspired to create such mesmerizing and fantastical folk music . Nevertheless, even in front of the red velvet curtain at World Cafe Live’s Lounge, they bring that same sense of wonder everywhere they go. Interestingly, though the band’s live sound is a bit more robust than the majority of their recorded music, they’re still able to leave the appropriate space for softness. Tender moments juxtapose anthemic climaxes while carefully crafted lyrics support otherwordly vocal deliveries. Suffice it to say it’s hard to take your eyes and ears off them even for a moment.

Playing to a full house, the band played a set of mostly unreleased material, opening with “We Fall in Our Sleep,” a song that Emma sweetly confessed was written about Nathan, her husband, before their marriage. “I feel seen and held,” she stated, discussing misconceptions about the unkindness of Philadelphians before launching into “Now,” an enchanting tribute to existing in the present. “Kind, Kind Home” introduced rainsticks into the collection of instruments on stage, which Wallentine, Johnson, and Shemwell wielded with finesse, setting the tone for the newest of their unreleased songs, “One and Two.” This song featured an exceptional vocal performance from Emma (though they always do), complete with stunning high notes and beautifully arpeggiating harp melodies.

The best part of the show, aside from the music, of course – otherwise, this would be completely blasphemous – was the banter the band had with each other and the audience. Emma once noted, “All my love songs now are about Nathan, and all the other ones are about people who didn’t work out,” to which Wallentine jested, “also named Nathan.”

“Messy Love” was arguably the heaviest song presented during the performance. Shemwell shined on the drums here. Though the tone of the song was unexpected compared to how the band had previously played, it perfectly represented its lyrical content. Emma took on “Unphased” solo, including the best (and probably only) whistle solo I’ve ever seen.

Of course, there was a brief tarot reading for the people listening to the set on XPN in their cars. Things were looking up for them, despite their road rage.

When “Holy and Sweet” was described as a “hymn” to which the audience may sing along, I was admittedly a bit apprehensive. But, sure enough, some of the crowd joined in (me included), chanting “Peace be with you” as Emma’s voice soared and the band’s passion swelled. It was a perfect ending to a flawless show.

This is all to say one simple thing: listen to Little Moon. Do it while you’re gazing at the stars, picking flowers, frolicking in an open field – regardless of what you’re up to, make sure they’re part of the experience.

Little Moon
Free At Noon
  • We Fall in Our Sleep
  • Now
  • Kind, Kind Home
  • One and Two
  • Messy Love
  • Unphased
  • wonder eyes
  • Holy And Sweet
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