Throughout his ten-year career, Daniel Martin Moore has carved an identity for himself as one of Kentucky’s most willing singer-songwriters — willing to diversify, willing to collaborate, and willing to listen. The latter of these qualities allegedly sparked the inspiration for his most recent record, Turned Over to Dreams, after being told that his friends used his music as lullabies for their children.
A concept album in the loosest of ways, Moore concerns himself with dreams, sleep and semi-conscious adventures from the get-go. The subject matter is an unsurprising choice, given Moore’s penchant for resonant, sustained instrumental work and his breathy vocal stylings, both of which help to nestle the listener into a dream-like state. Turned Over to Dreams opens with the titular track, and we are instantly transported into Moore’s slumberland by way of electronic blips, whirring strings and intimate vocal melodies.
What is perhaps most impressive about Turned Over to Dreams, however, is not Moore’s folk-inspired ballads. We’ve heard these before, and while they are still as inviting as ever, Moore’s real skill on this album stems from his ability to convey his dreamy subject matter in a variety of musical settings. The album begins with two tracks which are very much typical of Moore’s Sufjan Stevens/Elliott Smith-inspired writing, but after these, it is not until the sixth track of the record that we even hear Moore’s voice again.
Across the next three tracks, we are treated to instrumental writing which borders on art music, rather than the contemporary folk by which this album could easily have been consumed. Rather than opting for the easy way out, Moore presents a powerful, acoustic guitar-driven version of Brahms’ Lullaby, arranged with care and grace by its performer. Following this, “Amid the Stars”, marries the piano writing styles of the Romantic Period with stirring string lines. Here, Moore stakes his claim as being more than just an indie folk singer, but rather, a true musical craftsman.
We’re back to earth when Moore does sing again, after a journey into instrumental writing perfectly conducive to the travels into dreams being dealt with on the record. Seamless transitions pay dividends, as Moore opens with “you are so much more to me than just a bright light” on “You Are Home”. While it again would have been easy for Moore to close off the record in the fashion it began, he is not finished yet. A breathy saxophone duet opens “Stay Awake”, and continues to colour the track, later on, providing yet another vehicle for Moore’s dreamworld experimentation.
A cynic would label this album as being confused as to what it wants to be. It would be more accurate to say, however, that Daniel Martin Moore has articulated a powerful concept album which is never contrived, but can remain staggeringly diverse and cohesive. Intimate, gentle and considered, Turned Over to Dreams is the work of an artist who is only going to get better provided he keeps challenging himself.