Philadelphia’s Shannen Moser latest album, Oh My Heart, exists at the intersect between Bandcamp-era bedroom pop and timeless traditional folk. The songs have that personal, expressive quality that we like so much in DIY songwriters, but marry it with a lusher, more organic sound (in no small part down to the fact Moser’s joined by Julia Peters on cello, Eric Muth on guitar/trumpet/aux, Wyatt Oberholzer on bass and Joe Evers on keys).
The album opens with a prelude clip of a communal hymn before ‘Alex (282)’, the first song of many on the album which centres on belief (“he said ‘make a believer of me’,” goes the refrain. “Open my eyes I am dying to see”). The organic-sounding ‘Watershed’ follows with gentle guitar and a pleasantly emotive chorus, while ‘Yard’ burbles like a brook, Moser’s vocals at times little more than a murmur.
The title track is sub-60 seconds and comprises of nothing more than the titular phrase repeated over and over, conjuring a devotional quality not unlike that of the hymn we heard at the beginning. ‘Yr Undertaker’ rings with a bright clarity, the guitars like something from a lost album by The Washboard Abs, and while Moser’s voice wavers it’s not without a certain confidence. The last 20 seconds are filled with swirling ambient vocals which lend an epiphanic air, the sound of all the voices inside your head striking the same note at once.
‘A Funeral, A Friend, My Sanity’ is a stand out, a track that sounds at once intense and carefree, running along with a natural flow, like urgent thoughts uncorked and left to spill in poetic rhythm. The lyrics deal with family and finding love in a way both touching and humorous, as captured in the opening section:
“My uncle Ricky sits next to me
at my grandmother’s funeral
says that he’s married to Satan
but Satan’s a real pretty lady
who’s having his kids at the end of the month
Its the first of the month rents coming up
and I’m thinking about Ricky
and all of his babies
and who my own Satan will be
I think that it’s just gonna be me”
Penultimate track ‘October’ is all layered vocals and strummed guitar, before ‘Dirt and Water’ closes with a cathartic fusion of upbeat folk and a lingering nostalgia or sadnesss. The song gathers in momentum as it progresses, playing like something thawing under the sun and coming alive in the palm of your hand, and by the closing moments it’s wired with life, several voices joining to deliver the repeated refrain
“Dirt and water make this grow
you deserve so much you know”
You can get Oh My Heart as a name your price download from the Shannen Moser Bandcamp page.