Review

Influenced by Appalachian folk and vintage gospel, Daniel Martin Moore’s second solo album is a laid-back, God-fearing affair. The songs may be quick -- there are 11 here, all of them sandwiched into a lean 30 minutes -- but Moore delivers each one leisurely, rarely moving beyond the relaxed pace of a Sunday afternoon driver. A handful of friends join him in the process, including cellist Ben Sollee, who previously teamed up with Moore on the collaborative Dear Companion. But Moore keeps the guest list to a bare minimum this time around, and even the songs that boast the highest personnel wind up focusing on his own contributions. He’s a simple vocalist, talented enough to do the material justice but unable to elevate it beyond its pastoral, earthy roots, and he keeps the arrangements sparse, with acoustic guitar and piano doing most of the legwork. The result is an affable album that soothes but rarely dazzles, and In the Cool of the Day winds up functioning better as a contemporary reading of older songs. Moore reshapes the material at will, adding new lyrics to G.B. Grayson and Henry Whittier’s “A Dark Road Is a Hard Road to Travel” (presented here as simply “Dark Road”) and turning Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head” into a relaxed, jazzy hoedown. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi

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