Denai Moore has taken her time releasing an album. The 22-year-old singer/songwriter first emerged about two years ago, and worked on a series of EPs while she explored her sound. Above all, Elsewhere is an album about growing up, miniature traumas arranged with the simplicity of someone encountering them for the first time. These are songs about falling apart and gluing yourself back together, no matter how dark they get a hint of light always lurks at the edges. While today’s pop often erases the little idiosyncrasies that populate our lives, Moore’s songwriting is fiercely independent. For instance, “I Swore” tackles that tiny, heavy moment that a child first shouts profanity at their parent — the prickle of pain, guilt and freedom that an act like that represents.
Rodaidh McDonald — who has handled production for The xx, Adele, How To Dress Well, and Sampha — produced all but two tracks on Elsewhere (“Blame” and “Feeling” were produced by Ben Drew of Plan B). McDonald brought Moore’s sound out from the simple, still corners of acoustic guitar and sparse piano that her early EPs occupied, and drew her into dynamic soundscapes electrified with synths, beats and fuzzy, submerged brass. Still, it’s the control that the Jamaican-born, London-based singer has over her vocal style that twist these songs into delicate, significant stories.
The insistent finger-picking of “Flaws” underlies how the song deals in self-excavation, a relationship explored through the failures of both parties. “No Light” turns the line “There’s no light here” into such a towering, bright declaration that it illuminates the entire song. Elsewhere is a Bildungsroman of an album in the best sense; the story of an artist coming to age by admitting all her fears, and discovering that most admissions of defeat are victories in themselves. Listen to the full record below.
Here are Moore’s full international tour dates this spring:
04/07 Bristol, UK @ The Lantern
04/08 Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
04/09 London, UK Upstairs @ Electrowerkz
04/11 Rotterdam, NEN @ Motel Mozaique
04/14 Paris, FR @ Badaboum
04/16 Berlin, GER @ Privatclub
04/17 Copenhagen, DNK @ Ideal Bar