On 24th January, I began my gig year at Manchester Cathedral with Irish folk musician James Vincent McMorrow, by far one of the best artists around at the moment. As well as being an incredible musician and a generally funny and endearing guy, he has a knack for picking great support acts. I saw him in London at Royal Festival Hall two years ago, where we were treated to Agnes Obel, a stunning songwriter from Denmark whose haunting voice and rural inspired lyrics captured the imagination and stayed with you long after the set had finished. This time, McMorrow had selected Londoner Denai Moore, someone, he claimed, who had seriously impressed him.
It was easy to see why. Moore came onstage very humble and modest but unleashed an incredibly powerful voice, performing a string of songs infused with folk melodies. For such a newcomer to the music scene, she was self-assured and confident, allowing her voice to fill and ring about the high vaulted ceilings of the cathedral. ‘The Lake’, the title track to her second EP, which she has previously performed on Later With Jools Holland was particularly gorgeous. You could clearly see the influence of Bon Iver and Radiohead, however Moore sets herself apart from the rest by combining folk music with her remarkably soulful voice.
Her track ‘Gone’, however, is the absolute clincher that convinced me that Moore is set for big things. Performed only with a piano, it’s a heart-wrenching song about the mess left after a break-up that I think most people can relate to. The simplicity of the piano and the painfully honest lyrics like ‘I never know who to look for to try and fill your place / Cause I never thought that I would have to’ surely give the likes of Adele a run for their money in the muted desperation and devastation they imply about getting used to being alone.
In addition to James Vincent McMorrow, Moore has caught the attention of Band of Horses, who heard her cover of their song ‘Pt. One’ and recorded their own acoustic version. Laura Marling has been at the forefront of female folk for a long time, and I think Denai Moore is a welcome addition to this particularly male dominated area of music. With an album in the pipeline, I’m so excited to see where this incredible down-to-earth talent is headed.