Drawing Down The Moon – Moonlight Rhythm Society (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Moonlight Rhythm Society manages to pull off a great trick. Well, probably more than one but I’m talking about one that is immediately obvious and wonderfully prominent, one that is all about hitting sonic sweet spots. Without pandering to fads or fashion, without compromising what they do to fit in, without surfing the latest cultural zeitgeist, they manage to create a sort of alternative mainstream music. Now “alternative mainstream music” is obviously an oxymoron but I can’t think of a better way of putting it.

Their music is accessible and easy on the ear, it takes in poised pop sensibilities, soulful sweetness, funky rhythms, gentle rock grooves, jazz smarts and much more besides, navigating those generic styles towards a shifting sweet spot which borders two, several and occasionally all of those musical kingdoms. And, having found that sacred place, they proceed to make music that can’t fail to find mainstream attention and a large, receptive audience.

It is music that does all of this without playing the usual, pop industry games or bowing to the perceived wisdom of marketing men and the like. The band seem not to be actively seeking any audience except the one which naturally finds them, but such is their ability to hop generic boundaries and blend sounds and styles, tones and textures, that the audience that does eventually find them should prove to be a fairly large one.

This latest mini-album, e.p, call it what you will, kicks off with the charming and groovesome Allison, the song which first made me aware of the band and their seductive take on…for want of a better word…pop, and it feels like the perfect opening salvo. It introduces the first time listener to the melodicism and easy addictions that make Moonlight Rhythm Society so infectious as waves of soul break on a pop shoreline and breezy brass and sweet vocals float by on a warm breeze. Yes, their music not only makes you write in such poetic ways, but it also makes you do so with a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Even when sat down!

And, where other bands might immediately up their game in terms of impact and volume, here we find ourselves in the delicate and dulcet tones of 1000 Miles Away, a song which reappears translated into Italian as Nel Cuore Ho Stretto Te, a version which seems to heighten the feeling of romanticism and longing which runs through the song.

Under A Still Moon is rhythmic and understated, gently reaching into slightly more ornate territory when required, occasionally entwined with some elegant and musically eloquent Soprano Saxophone but happy to remain, for the most part, reserved and measured., and the record wraps up with the gently funking, dance-infused, soulful and sassy Falling Down, ending things in a similar dynamic place to that which greeted us on the way in.

It might be overstating things but I’m going to do it anyway. Moonlight Rhythm Society offer a real alternative to mainstream pop. They tick all of the same boxes – accessibility, groove, sing-along-ability, infectiousness, lightness of touch etc – without resorting to any of the crass tricks and rampant commerciality of that world. And that has to be a real alternative…doesn’t it?

Give it a listen HERE

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