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Young Moon - EP Review: Paraverbal Orchids

06 Sep 2022 // A review by Peter-James Dries

There is this Japanese art form called Kintsugi – Golden Joinery – which is a method of mending cracks in broken pottery with gold. The idea is that the broken pieces are part of the object’s history, so are something to remember rather than something to hide.

There is something about Young Moon’s Paraverbal Orchids that makes me think about that. It’s not that the music is broken, but perhaps Young Moon once was, and these songs are the gold between their breaks.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone sound so depressed when singing about love. I mean, apart from Elliott Smith… There is a comparison to be made there, though tenuous at best, since Young Moon’s crooning voice has to be at least an octave lower. But there is some underlying heartbreak here. This unspoken rawness and emotion. Sure there is some hope, some wonder, a lot of longing too – lyrically at least – but they are wind-swung balloons tethered to a heaviness that keeps them grounded.

This music isn’t from around here, is it? It sounds like the works of someone actually experienced in having their civil liberties compromised, rather than the victim of some imagined slight. Someone that has seen real hardships, which have left indelible stains on their psyche. This country barely knows such things. Not yet at least.

Remember, I’m only going by what I can hear here. I find that research into an artist taints how I hear their music. A monster with a name holds less power than something truly unknown. The same goes for music that comes with a write up telling me how to interpret it.

Perhaps I needed a cheat sheet this time. It’s hard for me to pick out the inspirations and influences on this EP. With my limited frame of reference, the songs feel somewhere between Richard Marx’s Hazard and Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, or maybe it’s just in a similar genre, or period of pop, or style.

Because I don’t listen to Leonard Cohen, they’re really the only analogies I have for the sound, and even they don’t really fit. Bruce Springsteen maybe? There is that working man feel to the music, you know, music by a regular guy rather than a rock star. Untainted by trends or flashy production tools. Just a guy with a guitar singing from his heart.

Is Paraverbal Orchids for me? Probably not, not this week at least. But that’s on me, not the music. There will be a market out there ready and waiting for this.

It was inoffensive enough as background noise and easy enough to traverse for the purposes of review, which is to say it's not an unlistenable mess of ideas. Nor is it the work of some isolated individual left unchecked. Objectively, it’s a great release. Subjectively though, I’m depressed enough this week.

Based on my usual music choices, you might take me as a ball of negativity. But I only tend to drown in the morose and melancholic when I’m in a good mood. They bring me back down to baseline. If I listen to sad music when I’m already down, it throws off the balance and flings me into a dark emotional space that isn’t compatible with life. Likewise, optimism is not something I can stomach when feeling optimistic.

I’ll try Paraverbal Orchids again one day. It definitely deserves a more captive audience than I can be right now.

This 5 stars might feel contradictory, but the EP is well constructed, and the performance faultless. It sounds like the work of an experienced musician and songwriter, as opposed to an experimenting bedroom dabbler.

You can find Paraverbal Orchids on the Young Moon Bandcamp.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Young Moon

Paraverbal Orchids - Young Moon

Alright, straight out with it - behind the gruff and tough exterior of this gnarled old punk lies a total geek. So when the title of San Francisco native Young Moon/Trevor Montgomery's latest EP Paraverbal Orchids had me reaching for the dictionary, well, you could say he had me at ‘Paraverbal’.

Except that wouldn’t really be true at all. Trevor has had me for years - not that either of us knew it until a recent and rather humbling Sunday afternoon where I had the pleasure of sitting in on a session at his Nelson studio, Secret Handshake.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Young Moon


Triggered By Sunsets
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Paraverbal Orchids
Year: 2022
Type: EP

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