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Jerry Moore, “Life is a Constant Journey Home” (ESP-Disk) 1967/13

posted May 8, 2013, 7:01 am by patchen | Filed Under Editorial | comment Leave a Comment

This 1967 reissue is definitely of its time. recorded shortly before his ordination as a preacher, Jerry Moore’s “Life is a Constant Journey Home” is a meditative plea for peace and faith, delivered in a smooth plaintive voice and utilizing many of the familiar folk, country, Soul and light blues of era. Moore’s message is subtly Christian, but its overtly compassionate and fiery defense of love is certainly all-inclusive.

With light soulful blues, lyrics gently chiding, the title song opens things up with a mellow but edgy tone. This is a call to wake up, a search for a fast track to insight and redemption. Again, the music is dated and might seem more appropriate to an ad for a senior citizen health product than a memorable invocation to eternal love, but Moore’s voice, like that of more recently, Alexi Murdoch or Stuart Staples, has a gritty world-wise depth behind the lush croon.

In contrast, “Drugged” is nevertheless a parable that works because of the music. A folk shuffle that seems is dated in melody and message until repeated listens reveal a rock and roll heart, this track is rescued from a certain fate as a preachy topical screed. Moore effortlessly—unintentionally?—expands the meaning of funky here.

The set really kicks in to gear with “Anti Bellum Sermon.” a funky blues with a hard rhythm section that is topical without being, er, preachy. This and “Winds of Change” are the only really overtly gritty songs. In my world, that means they are the best songs of the set; it is with these songs that his message of togetherness and brotherly love mixes with the hard realities of the beat, as if to remind us that there is a cost and a struggle involved in trying to live right and with compassion.

Of the other cuts, ‘This Is My Time” is especially dated, with its Love-esque soft psych, though the primarily a- cappella melody showcases Moore’s deeply passionate delivery. But the song sinks itself in a fey melody that wastes that vocal performance, undermining its urgency with turgid syrup. The closer, “Let Go, Reach Out,” is a possibly expected call to unity anthem, and it likewise suffers from its resemblance to formulaic pop sugar.

Still, “Life is a Constant Journey Home” is more than a period piece. Moore shows himself to be adept and sensitive to various styles, and his rich soulful voice must surely have helped him in the pulpit. While this is no classic, it is a lost gem from a time when there were many such voices crying for peace in the wilderness. Jerry Moore laid down a few tracks that displayed the poetry and passion of the man and the artist. His hits and misses with honesty and sincerity, and you can’t ask more from a record, even one consigned to obscurity.g80827jintm


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