Thom Morecroft has been a fixture on the local acoustic circuit for a while now. No matter if he’s hosting an evening down on Penny Lane, or headlining his own gig at View Two, you know you’re guaranteed some lovely tunes.
Produced, recorded and mixed by Jon Lawton at Liverpool’s Crosstown Studios, ‘Moon Moon Shake It’ is the troubadour’s latest release. Is it an EP or a mini album? Who cares – it’s just seven good songs, beautifully recorded and painstakingly crafted.
Morecroft has found a consistent sound that suits his intricate tunes. Sure, you’d like more light and shade at times – and for him to be that little bit braver with the band – but sometimes, less is more.
It certainly is on the epic ‘Wilted Gardens’, a song meandering along on what sound like open tunings and complex chord patterns. “I’m learning about how cruel a girl can be,” he sings, as a beautiful female harmony takes over the tune.
Said voice belongs to Elle Schillereff… and it’s her voice that almost dominates the record. Never sugary, but always with a kick, the female harmonies are just that bit left of centre to keep things interesting and put this writer in mind of Damien Rice’s early collaborations with Lisa Hannigan.
The title track has a more modern edge, with its conversational vocal almost rapping over the melody and sharing a musical space with local group, The Fifth Movement. ‘The French Girl’ is home to some of the songwriter’s more lyrical gems and the lovely vocal interplay between Morecroft and Schillereff lifts the song above its more pedestrian melody.
‘Daisy’ is my favourite though: opening up with a delicious John Martyn-esque guitar figure, the song unfolds to reveal a vibe not unlike Eric Clapton’s unplugged take on ‘Layla’. The beat swings and the cool mid-section builds just the right amount of tension.
‘Holly’ is another full band song and entirely the better for it – perhaps something for Morecroft to explore? He certainly likes to open his throat and sing in a full, bluesy voice. It suits the band songs, but can reveal limitations when paired with only a delicately picked guitar. Just a thought.
“I made noises like a seal, at least I was clapping,” goes closer ‘The Beast’, as we hear the songwriter take a good hard look at himself. It’s lovely too and shows a cute turn of phrase, alongside another fab’ acoustic guitar sound.
Morecroft may need to decide if delicate finger pickers are his stock on trade. As when he cuts loose with the band, it all makes more sense. Everything is in place for that next step though…