Young love

Marie Moreshead proves she's the permanent kind
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  September 23, 2009



For a girl with such a professed affinity for monogamy, Marie Moreshead is a bit of a tease. On the heels of 2007's intriguing Distraction EP, she's now released a five-song EP in Birdwatchers that's bound to leave you aching for more. With a delivery like a stone skipping across a stilled lake in the morning mist and a wide-eyed outlook on the world that manages to be cynical, escapist, and endearingly naïve all at once, Moreshead is a sparkling bauble of talent that's hard not to keep peeking at.

Fittingly, Jonathan Wyman has crafted a backing group of studio musicians to serve as a tasteful platinum setting for said jewel. Moreshead is always front and center, sometimes even hot in the mic when she emotes, but the pop-folk backing, reminiscent of the Pete Kilpatrick records, is consistently interesting and keeps the record from just being a pedestal.

To open the disc with "As the Romans Do," full of Pat Lynch's banjo and comforting cymbal wash from drummer Dan Crean, is a great choice. Not only does Moreshead introduce herself with self-awareness -- "I'm a strange and introverted little lady/You might not believe me because my mouth just won't sit still" -- but she dispels any notion you might have had that she's some kind of namby-pamby singer/songwriter (not that there's anything wrong with that). She's crisp and structured, all hard syllables and glottal stops.

Then, mid-album, when everything is stripped away and she actually is a namby-pamby singer/songwriter, damn if it isn't spectacular. Her ice-pick of a falsetto, especially, is a thrill, and "Permanent Kind" is so finely crafted I'm more than willing to forgive a little corniness here and there: "I hold my head up high because I know you're my guy."

By the time Kilpatrick actually shows up, for the duet "Hello There," the boy-girl hook has been thoroughly set and Karl Anderson's keyboards are just as charming as Pete and the lyrics: "well, hello there, I'd really like for you to love me/I'd really like for you to open up your heart and let me in."

Just 21 (you know you're young when you do a duet with Kilpatrick and he's the grizzled veteran) Moreshead's voice could peg her even younger, so unadorned by any kind of rasp or rough edge, and her sentiments can be equally pure of heart. In the finishing "Birdwatchers," opening with just her acoustic guitar and Hache's bass and then building in a snare and muted piano, she sings about those things that some of us have become so cynical as to not find remarkable anymore: "Nobody cares for the truth anymore/They'd rather hear lies/They'd rather be bored to death/Than be angry or feel anything."

Well, yeah. But sometimes a reminder full of delicious nostalgia can be comforting, even if it's all too short.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at

BIRDWATCHERS | Released by Marie Moreshead | at Common Ground Country Fair, in Unity | Sept 27 | at Bull Moose Music, in Portland | Oct 3 |

Related: Short-form Portland, Behind the Red Curtain, The Shapes of things, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Culture and Lifestyle,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FIRST SECOND COMING  |  August 22, 2014
    Hey, look, I Discovered a Planet
  •   THE CRUNK WITCH THAT THEY ARE  |  August 14, 2014
    Three albums in, Crunk Witch are now far more than novelty. The all-digital, husband-wife duo of Brandon Miles and Hannah Collen have created enough material at this point to establish a clear method behind what can sometimes seem like madness.  
  •   FIRE ON FIRE  |  August 07, 2014
    From the varying deliveries and styles through the three fully instrumental tracks, there’s a lot to consider in Pyronauts , with equal attractions in playing it loud in the car with the windows down and in the headphones.
  •   HIP HOP SUMMER  |  July 31, 2014
    For pure output, it’s hard to argue Portland is anything but a hip hop city.
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE