John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! – The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!
The release of John Elderkin’s latest work is shaping up to potentially be a defining moment in the songwriter’s career thus far. The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas!
is an exhaustive concept album with a wide ranging and well constructed storyline escaping the weakness that have often plagued earlier and even iconic albums of this type. Elderkin’s talent differs importantly in a few ways, but arguably the most important deviation arises from his evident skills as a storyteller. He proves capable of delineating character and theme alike with his lyrics and a various vocal approach allows him to interpret the material in any way he sees fit. The flexibility afforded by his obvious talents means these songs pack an artistic punch that might be missing or clumsily handled in the hands of his lessers.
“We Waited Five Years” gets things off to an appealingly bouncy start and there’s a deceptively upbeat tone to the vocal and music belied by the darker lyrical content. The guitar work throughout this album is uniformly strong and Elderkin’s audience is introduced to many of its strengths on this song. The production style varies depending on the intentions and goals of each song and they embrace clarity and warmth on the album’s first full length song. “Song for David Bowie” shares many of the same characteristics but there’s a more bare bones approach and attention to dynamics guiding its development. It’s a beautifully handled song and escalates in a memorable way. He fills “Gather Your Strength” with some of the same minimalist trappings, but this song hints at exerting more rock muscle in a manner he’ll explore much more later in the track listing. He reaches that six string fueled crescendo with the titanic bruiser “Don’t Look Right at the Sun” and the fiery guitar playing wears a number of faces throughout the performance before culminating with a blazing exit. “You Got Sick” is definitely another high point on this album thanks to its nakedly emotional qualities and Elderkin delivers, arguably, the album’s most affecting vocal shorn of any showiness or overt displays of sentimentality.
The jangling, slightly ragged mid tempo guitar rock of “Megaphone on the Moon” creates a fine musical landscape for this wildly absurd and entertaining lyric. There’s certainly enough color in the arrangement and singing alike that the song’s loose saunter becomes quite charming from the first. “Sore Afraid” is somewhat reminiscent of earlier songs in the way it embraces a dynamic development rather than just sticking with a set arrangement throughout the course of the song. It begins its run as a piece for voice and acoustic guitar, but a second guitar eventually enters the frame and sets the song on fire with some incendiary licks and jagged chords. There’s something on this album for everyone and even casual music fans will be hard pressed to not admire some of the album’s more melodic, and therefore commercially minded, tracks. John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! have scored big with this release and its impact on imaginations will linger.