John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! – The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!
RELATED ARTICLE: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/07/sore-afraidmp4.html
The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! is a seventeen track album featuring the talents of songwriter/musician/vocalist John Elderkin and a veritable all-star selection of the finest musical talent in the North Carolina area. Seventeen songs might seem like a considerable musical load for anyone to deal with, but the songs are uniformly accessible and never tax the listener’s patience. There’s certainly a tremendous challenge posed to Elderkin’s potential target audience – this is an ambitious undertaking and there’s clearly been an enormous effort expended in attempting to realize its promise. The central premise, in some respects, exists as a modern and highly personal reinterpretation of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, but Elderkin uses this reference point mainly as a jumping off place for putting his own spin on a similar theme.
“We Waited Five Years”, the first full song on the album, is one of a few directly referencing Bowie’s album, but it has much more of John Elderkin’s heart and experiences coming through much more than any other quality. The recording is quite solid – Elderkin’s voice is nicely balanced against the backing track and blends in quite well with the musical tone. “Song for David Bowie” has a similar slant in some ways and actually, unlike the aforementioned tune, maintains an arch traditionalist line of attack throughout the entirety of the song. It begins with just guitar and Elderkin’s voice but, by song’s end, has brought in additional elements that set the song apart and emphasize its uniqueness. Much of that uniqueness is derived from Elderkin’s voice and lyrical content. “Gather Your Strength” has a much more straight-ahead, stripped down style of getting over with listeners than any other song thus far and it centers on the primal drumming propelling the song towards its inevitable conclusion.
He opts for some unexpectedly satisfying guitar crunch on the song “Don’t Look Right at the Sun”. There’s really nothing in any of the preceding songs to hint at this musical turn, but Elderkin pulls it off with unquestioned credibility. The second half of the song picks up the pace in a notable way and the guitar work truly hits stratospheric heights. Some more of Elderkin’s distinctively idiosyncratic sense of humor emerges on the track “Get Back in the Van” and his storytelling talents launch to a funny opening line that, nonetheless, perfectly sets the scene. This life on the road chronicle will certainly appeal to more than those who’ve lived the life as Elderkin is a talented enough writer to bring us inside the tale. “Danielle, Long Gone” shows off the marvelous talents of vocalist Danielle Howie and the change of pace makes for a memorable moment on this release as well as fitting in with the surrounding material. “Fat Levon on Acid” couldn’t strike a stronger contrast. It’s an odd, intensely theatrical and skewed romp with a wild vocal. “Sore Afraid” is a powerful song late in the album’s running order with one of Elderkin’s most effective vocal. “Give Me Your Hands” ends the release on a remarkably low key note – Elderkin’s comfort level on a stairway of surprise is perfectly illustrated by his refusal to play into expectations with a big curtain finale. The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! is an album that comes along only every few years when some young talent wants to put himself out there in a meaningful way aimed at posterity.