The Sun Stills Seems To Move (Coke Bottle Clear)
Release Date: 12/09/2022
Release type: Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl LP Pressing
Shannen Moser wants to have a conversation: with their past selves, their present self, their undesignated, unfurling future selves; with the trees that adorn their old street, and the door they used to call home; with the shadows of lovers-turned-to-friends and the overwhelming cacophony of abrupt change. They're drawing a map but the port of call is cloudy and indistinct. It's while traveling along these nebulous contours that their latest album The Sun Still Seems To Move forms a kind of physicality, of outstretched giving hands, that offers a guide through the fog. Here, Moser examines the disorientating, challenging task of trying to hold onto ourselves-and everything else-all at once. But this isn't a fatalistic journey of melancholy or apprehension. Instead, Moser celebrates the small steps and the unwavering perseverance that makes it all worthwhile.
Moser's previous albums Oh, My Heart (2017) and I'll Sing (2018) were praised for their careful, intimate arrangements that showcased their sharp, interpersonal narration and timeless lush vocals. On The Sun Still Seems To Move, their first release in four years, Moser takes the arresting simplicity of their past LPs to form a malleable foundation, and combines it with orchestral swells and poignantly-rich harmonies. What started as a simple vocals-and-guitar record soon shifted, as Moser experienced a sudden, gut-wrenching heartbreak. Two years into writing the record, The Sun Still Seems To Move morphed into a texturally diverse and palatial sonic universe, mimicking the immeasurable scope of ever-changing circumstance, while still providing an anchor among the waves. "At a certain point I was like, let's just go for it. Let's just really lean into the sadness of the world," they explain. "I really wanted to make a thing that I had never made before, because I was feeling a way that I had never felt before." To piece together the patchwork of The Sun Still Seems To Move, Moser enlisted the help of their extended music community, including co-producer Alex Melendez, Tyler Bussey (Thank You Thank You/Strange Ranger), Julia Peters, Maxwell Stern, Tyler Carmody, Mark Nestman, Eric Muth and Josh Marre (Blue Ranger). Banjo, saxophone, cello, lap steel, woodwind and synth adorn the album, decorating Moser's arrangements but never overwhelming them. "Being able to have a space with my friends and make a record where I was allowed to fully make this art in the face of that pain was really, really beautiful," they say. "The hands that have touched this record are really special." This collaborative nature is palpable from the start, as opener "Paint By Number" begins with the quiet instrumental chatter of oscillating strings and gently teetering keys that seamlessly transition to a serenely smooth, cathartic composition. During the writing process of The Sun Still Seems To Move, Moser moved back home to the rural surroundings of Berks County to take care of their father and it's in the song's introduction that we feel the disorientation that comes from returning to an almost-forgotten place, especially under challenging circumstances. The song's steady walking pace, almost as if we were accompanying Moser on a walk through the greenery of where they grew up, soon experiences a hairpin bend, as guitars and strings quicken with a delicate urgency. By using this as an introduction for The Sun Still Seems To Move, Moser offers a canvas where the overwhelming, often confusing overflow of love and sorrow existing at once aren't just welcome, but encouraged. On "Oh My God" Moser channels the bereavement of unexpectedly losing something you've grown so accustomed to over sunny, stretched-out lap steel, plucked banjo and a fluttering woodwind arrangement by Maeve Conran. "I know that life's not one liner, seamless destination / Leaning towards a pillar moment saying you ended up just right / It's ass to ass traffic, sometimes yelling on the freeway," they lament, displaying Moser's ability in balancing the dichotomy between pain and joy, where we can poke fun at our existential thoughts and offer moments of silly relief. After all, the days keep turning even throughout change. Later, "Dendrochronology" chronicles the evolution of friendship through the lens of nature, as Moser likens trees that "grow parallel, forever never touching," to "the kind of devotion that doesn't need a touch." It's an offering of hopeful wonder, of the small moments of magic in the world, that are still palpable despite it all. The Sun Still Seems to Move is an album of reckoning with death and trauma, with all the shapes that love can take and all the people we've been and will become. It's a record of regret and relief, unlocking every facet of feeling with an unabashed yet tender vigor. It's watching the clouds bend to a new shape and still staying outside. It's cry-laughing on the phone to an old friend, and trying to trust yourself again. By leaning into-and being at the whim-of this kind of vulnerability, Moser is able to navigate the spaces between the losses to produce a truly honest and lustral work. "Holding space for all of these feelings is confusing, but I think that's what makes the world turn," they explain. "It's love and grief existing in tandem and it feels like this never ending, switching one out for the other."
- Paint By Number
- Oh My God
- Two Eyes
- The Sun Still Seems to Move
- The Bell
- Foul Ball