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Tuesday 12 September 2017

We Used To Bloom: Denai Moore Returns With An Eclectic Album That Takes The Temperature Of The Times

Denai Moore was in Brighton earlier this year for full-band shows at The Great Escape festival. Now she's coming back in the city with new album We Used To Bloom, which she calls 'a declaration of growth, a break-up letter to her demons and a love letter to the liberated self'.  

The album also features a cover of Elliott Smith's Twilight within which Denai reveals a new depth to the song, through spacious production and the fragile strength of her voice. 

One of the album's gems Do They Care? is a song Denai says she was "itching to write for a while" the track takes in the temperature of the times, "it's about everything that"s happening right now in the world and how much it was affecting me." 

The last couple of years have provided an intense and sometimes painful period of growth for Moore — an experience that she documents now with unflinching openness on the album. 

These ten songs reveal a young woman figuring out the world and her place in it, while also charting Moore's evolving relationship with herself — with self-esteem, self-image and the crippling anxiety she once suffered and is now challenging head on through her songwriting. 

"I've never written about this before and it was a massive weight off my shoulders," she says.

"I've always wanted to write about it, and I think a lot of people can relate to it because people are more open now about mental health issues. I think it is empowering." 

But she sings too of the triumph of this experience. On the sublime album opener Let It Happen she's revelling in "a celebration of myself" calling the song "a self-love anthem,".

What is particularly notable about Moore's music — in her early EPs and collaborations, on debut album Elsewhere, and now in We Used to Bloom - is how it defies genre.

There are R'n'B influences, certainly, but alongside them stand a love for folk and soul, for Bon Iver, Feist and Solange, for Sufjan Stevens's The Age of Adz into the "richness" of Beyonce's Lemonade, for the fact that "Kanye never made the same record twice", for the way that St Vincent "really reinvented the idea of being a lead guitarist." 

And there too is the girl who learned to play keys alongside her session musician father, the girl who took up guitar and sang at a young age, who spent her childhood in Jamaica listening to the gospel music of the local churches. 

"And melodically that still influences me," she says. "It's a very resonant music. It stays." 

And so to bracket Moore with any one particular scene seems naive —such defiance of genre is crucial for a flourishing British music community. 

Denai's passion for collaboration isn't limited to just music, for We Used To Bloom,

Denai has collaborated with all-female creative collective In Bloom who've together shaped the artistic direction of the new album.

The new album's title, she says, is a nod to the feeling of self-growth. 

"I chose it because I felt like I'm in the growing aspect of my life." 

"There's something about blossoming and blooming that I associate with being younger, but now I'm older and I'm really coming to understand myself as a person. We used to bloom; now we grow."

Denai Moore at Komedia Brighton Studio on Friday 29th September 2017. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley


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