Dawn Chorus #19: Yoni Gordon – Fearless Moral Inventory

Dawn Chorus #19: Yoni Gordon – Fearless Moral Inventory

We had a week off last week for half-term but we’re back with our morning listening now…starting with this eclectic modern pop album from Yoni Gordon which passes through the parishes of rock, Americana, and Trap for a listen full of surprises. 

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Yoni Gordon Fearless Moral Inventory album coverArtist: Yoni Gordon
Album: Fearless Moral Inventory
Label: Self-released
Year of release: 2019
Genre: Americana, Pop

“The album is all about the emotional excavation work people usually do in recovery…it feels like time to sing about what it means to take that long, hard, look in the mirror. Maybe we all, as a country, are doing that right now in the midst of this moment of reckoning and national peril.”

When this album found its way to me, it was introduced with these words. It’s the sort of statement which at once sets possibilities on edge; this could be a personal journey only of interest to the person taking it, or it could have a universality which resonates as we are all try and find our grip as we slide seemingly inevitably toward Orwellian becoming reality rather than warning. Team the lyrical potential with a stubborn refusal to pigeon-hole this album to a genre, but pitching it as one which takes the classic rock styling of his earlier career with a love of modern pop and Trap beats. It was intrigue which made me play this first, it’s the detail and the hooks which has kept me coming back.

The album opens with ‘Wait Until The Morning Light’, a Gospel-infused aubade of hope and stoicism where the melody is carried by the voice. It sets a scene for an album which may mix genres but finds itself settling around Americana more often than not, and not for the worst. There is a hint of Simone Felice in many of the quieter moments, something akin to mainstream indie rock in the more produced studio elements – far more evident as we head toward ‘Sound of Summer’ where they are teamed with a spliced but squalling rock riff. It’s an interesting concoction and one which works on an album which as well as reflecting on recovery is straining at the leash to move forward, to shed the cocoon of some transformation and spread wings as something new.

‘Give The Ending Away’ begins as a gently circling acoustic riff, smoke-like around the strength of the voice, before piano breaks in and a heavy beat falls into step beside us. This is the song which walks with us in the rain as we realise who we are, and don’t necessarily like all our actions but try to muster the strength not to dwell but to change. Vocally there is vulnerability and fortitude, that swell of feeling around hope fostered by the layering of melody. Among the very best of Americana right now.

‘Hey Girl’ is pure pop, but it is where songs meet at the crossroads of genre rather than narrows its melodic focus that the album really sparkles.  ‘All My Life’ does this, as that singer-songwriter intimacy adds an infectious beat, that reverential piano, the cool tones of the inorganic as it all fades away. ‘Easy Answers’ is a Country lament, ‘Another Book’ provides a soft-rocking-smooth-jam guitar solo which rejects the machismo which often attaches itself and becomes moonlight on gentle waves; peaks bending and breaking, slipping through your fingers as you try to hold onto it.

There is some repeating of themes, some sense that there is much learning and challenge going on here practically as a musician and not only as a person inwardly reflecting and yet the album is free of hesitation or over-indulgence. It’s a very modern album in many ways – despite being much longer than most attention spans will hold for – a coherence throughout but with tracks equally able to stand apart from their siblings and command attention in the Age of the Song.

As an individual there is plenty of self-awareness without meandering, as an artist there is an enthusiastic adventure toward making music which sounds like that to which they like to listen. On Fearless Moral Inventory it comes together for a longer listen, refreshing the Americana genre, and nudging us all toward that look in the mirror rather than rubbing our noses in personal faults and the wider horrors. The album is hope, it’s an experiment which yielded success, and which melodically gives Yoni Gordon a broad palette from which to create even greater detail and focus on future records.

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Dawn Chorus is a week day feature sharing an album to listen to on your morning commute, the school run, or at other times with the intention of surfacing classics you might not have given time to yet, indulging in old favourites, and helping you discover the best of new releases. If you’d like to suggest an album for the feature, or contribute a guest write up on an album you think more people should hear, get in touch. Find and follow our growing playlist of tracks from featured Albums of the Day on Spotify here

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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