steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Tony Moreno

"Grand & Failing" CD

KEEP Recordings

Genres: folk, instrumental

KEEP Recordings
PO Box 18972
Tucson AZ 85731

Nov 29 - Dec 5 2004

Grand & Failing is the second solo offering from Norfolk & Western member Tony Moreno, following a successful, limited-to-50-copies debut CDR entitled Leftovers From A Wake.  Continuing in the trend of combining historical themes with folk-based melodies, this album manages to outdo its predecessor, making for an extraordinarily touching collection of Americana-influenced soundscapes.

Tony Moreno's focus here is on the guitar part, which gives this album its warm, cozy atmosphere.  Though there are occasional vocals ("Not Quite Right," "Driving By Moonlight"), the majority of the album is instrumental - with spoken word and field recordings filling out the rest of the space.  The album begins with an interview about someone's migration from Indiana to California way back when, in the vein of GYBE! (remember the Coney Island speech?) - though it has a stronger Americana element to it.  Ultimately, guitars come into the equation, accompanying the spoken part.  This formula is used a few times on Grand & Failing ("Honeyhole Cliff," "Tuesday Failing"), giving the album context and establishing an interesting storytelling tone.  The majority of the disc is simply instrumental guitar folk (think Fahey, but less experimental), though hushed singing sometimes enters into the equation.

Over the duration of these fourteen all-too-short tracks, Grand & Failing manages to be both low-key and touching.  This album can be something you play in the background, or something you devote all your attention to.  Either way, it's a success.


[Note: My advance copy of this album had a bit of a transition problem - instead of the songs naturally fading into one another, there were brief pauses in between them.  This is a common albeit avoidable problem, and was likely cleared up for the disc's final pressing.]

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 14 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2004]