Moriarty, Gee whiz but this is a lonesome town

Ian Gittins

By Ian Gittins

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Gee whiz but this is a lonesome town


Huge in their native France, where this debut album has already gone gold, Moriarty are a band like few others. Their music is all sepia surrealism — a rolling, movable feast of folk, country, jazz and Appalachian blues that has as much to do with Kurt Weill or Captain Beefheart as it does with Gypsy Kings. Six band members, who live scattered across the globe and all of whom have adopted the stage surname Moriarty, keep the wistful, mildly bluegrass-hued music loping along while flickering-torch singer Rosemary Stanley — sorry, Rosemary Moriarty— supplies a crystalline, knowing, Joan Baez-like vocal.

Magnificently eclectic French outsider pop

They take their name from the hero of Jack Kerouac's On The Road, and a similar insatiable spirit informs these ramshackle, fractured ditties — from the Lewis Carroll-gone-wrong adolescent sexual fantasy of "Lovelinesse," where a young girl runs naked in poppy fields before a predatory priest, to the shrill siren song of the doomed "Lily," a hapless 19-year-old conscripted to fight in some long-forgotten war. There are times when this humane, visceral music suggests Billie Holiday crooning the more outré elements of Serge Gainsbourg's catalogue. For the most part, Moriarty simply sound like nobody else.