Soul’s Journey Home is a labour of and about love. The second album from Toronto-based singer/songwriter James Bruce Moore, it is an eloquent exploration of different facets of love and life, all presented in a sophisticated and compelling musical setting. In an era of noise, this record is a gentle balm for the ears and the soul.
After a long absence from the music scene, Moore re-introduced himself in 2013 with his debut record, Lisbeth. A deeply moving collection of songs, it was inspired by and dedicated to Moore’s late wife, Lisbeth Marian Moore. Lisbeth showcased his warm honeyed vocals and his songwriting skill, while the production and instrumental work of an elite group of local musicians was of the highest order.
We now happily get more from Moore, with Soul’s Journey Home, an album with even greater impact than the debut. James again recruited George Koller (Loreena McKennitt, The Shuffle Demons) to produce, and the pair returned to noted Toronto studio Number 9 Audio with many of the same ace players who graced Lisbeth. Sonically, they upped the ante by bringing in a nine-piece strings section to add their atmospheric magic to four of the songs here, “Soul’s Journey,” “Lovin’,” “Harsh Light Of Day,” and “Lovin’ Of An Evening.”
The wonderfully evocative string arrangements were created by Aaron Davis, an acclaimed pianist/composer/arranger (Manteca, Holly Cole, Measha Brueggergosman) who was introduced to Moore by Koller. “George and I were mapping out ideas for this album when he suggested I meet Aaron,” Moore recalls. “I met them both at Number 9 Audio on a freezing cold Saturday in February. I played four or five of my new tunes into Aaron’s recorder and he took them away. Eight weeks later, we’re back in the studio when these nine young musicians walk in with their instruments and charts. They sit in a semi-circle, Aaron is there on the big grand piano, and away they go. To hear these songs that I’d written on my acoustic guitar transformed this way gave me goosebumps. I was almost levitating off the couch in the studio. That was such a magical part of the whole process.”
It is testimony to James’ skill as a songwriter that his compositions shine whether they’re embellished with lavish strings or recorded simply with his guitar and voice. Two tunes on Soul’s Journey Home, the narrative-driven “Roy Benavidez” and the tender closing song, “Sigh Unto The Universe,” are played in this sparse fashion, a setting that matches their content perfectly.
Three other songs here, “Bridges To Love,” “Gentle Witness,” and “Open Your Heart,” feature Moore and a band comprising Koller (bass), Steve Briggs (guitar), Denis Keldie (piano and organ), Mark Mariash (drums), and Kirsten Rea (backup vocals). Mariash, Rea, and guitarist David Piltch are also featured on the strings-accompanied tunes.
The different settings and combinations of players add a welcome diversity to Soul’s Journey Home. Whereas Lisbeth featured some country, blues and jazz strains, the new album is rather more consistently folk-based.
Another peer with great respect for Moore’s talent is the legendary David Clayton-Thomas (Blood Sweat and Tears), who calls James “a true gentleman, writing and singing his own songs in a soulful and unique style.”
It is now time to take a journey home to your own soul with James Bruce Moore’s delightful new record. The rewards are immense.
– Kerry Doole, 2015
Soul’s Journey (5:42)
This song is about the journey of love and to love. I wrote this in about two hours or so, as I thought about how love transforms (and I mean love of one’s self, one’s life, one’s romantic love and how beautiful it is) and although we know we must walk that road in singular fashion on our own, through life ,we are not ever really alone
A very cold Winter afternoon sitting by a door with my guitar trying to feel some of the Sun’s warmth through the glass, reflecting on the inexorable passage of time and how we sometimes forget to express that which lingers through time and that which remains but is many times not expressed…Love. It seems to me love can (and does) remain when all else is gone and yet if it can be relished and expressed when surrounded by abundance and when surrounded by loved ones then all the better. So easy and resulting in no regrets, no remorse.
Bridges to Love (4:23)
This song, written with just a guitar and harmonica, has been wonderfully transformed to express that love is a bridge between moving from dark to light, bad to good, etc, and about trusting in that.
Harsh Light of Day (4:34)
This song is a plea for resumption of love, a resumption of a relationship, a strong relationship which has for one reason or another gone wrong. He truly wishes her to open her eyes to the glaring truth that she does not need to seek satisfaction elsewhere her journey is one of futility, waste and if only she would try again. Sometimes what we seek is in front of us but we cannot see.
Roy Benavidez (4:42)
I wrote this song after reading a book on courage by Senator John McCain. Sergeant Benavidez, a humble man, exhibited incredible courage (a sometimes inexplicable trait) to move beyond your fears a great inspiration. It took some time to finish this song.
Gentle Witness (5:01)
This song I wrote while thinking about a higher self, a higher power which is really love. It guides us in how we can watch out for each other in a gentle, caring, and doting way, which is all quite unencumbered and flows naturally when we let it.
Lovin of an Evening (4:51)
Again a song about lost love, wonderful remembrances, and an expression of love and respect from a man to his lost lover. This song was conceived out in the country sitting by a lake on a beautiful warm afternoon as a train whistle blew and I could hear the sounds of Mother Nature ringing out in wondrous fashion. How love is equally wondrous and kind and natural. In this case he has such respect and admiration for his lost lover, yet there might be a sad resignation to the fact that it is over.
Open Your Heart (3:19)
A nice chord progression here suggested this song about just letting love flow naturally if we let it and opening one’s heart by being receptive good things can ensue.
Sigh Unto the Universe (4:49)
This song is about gratitude, a calm expression of thanks to the powers that drive us toward love and its eternal nature.