A Love Sleeps Deep’s bones rattle with all the seismic changes of the last five years since the release of The Moondoggies’ Adios I’m a Ghost. While the Washington band got lumped in early on with the woodsy folk-rock/Americana movement that sprung up in the Pacific Northwest in the 2000s, the core Moondoggies sound has always been rock in the more classical sense-more Pink Floyd than Woody Guthrie. A Love Sleeps Deep crystalizes that.
Perhaps more importantly, A Love Sleeps Deep finds singer/guitarist Kevin Murphy at his most pointed as a songwriter. There’s no lyrical pussyfooting this time around. Lacking the need to prove himself, he opens up and lays bare his feelings.
“Generally, I feel frustrated because there’s a lot of this escapist stuff going on in rock and roll,” says Murphy. “I just didn’t want to not talk about my frustrations with what I was seeing around me. I have two little girls now, and I’m just thinking about where things are going. Love in my life has changed everything.”
While the album on a whole is about love, there’s an unmistakable anger boiling under the surface. Murphy captures the life-altering glory of finding real love on “Sick in Bed” and “Easy Coming,” and speaks to that special unbridled brand of parental love on “My Mother.” But the highs exasperate his counterbalancing frustrations. He sings with poetic pointedness about the casual racism his girlfriend has faced on “Cinders” and how we’re all ruining the planet his daughters will inherit on “Underground (A Love Sleeps Deep).” He further lets his political feelings be heard on the distorted (literal) barnburner, “Soviet Barn Fire.”
Recorded in Seattle in the spring of 2017 with production wizard Erik Blood (Shabazz Places, Tacocat, THEESatisfaciton), A Love Sleeps Deep is also an album of collaboration. The band seemingly threw each tune up in the air to see how it bounced around the room, making sure everyone got their hands on it. From around 30 initial demos, Blood helped select the most jam-heavy numbers. “They had that vibe that made me love the band in the first place, but with a weathered distinction and confidence that moved me,” says Blood.
With the passage of time, the band feels more comfortable in its own skin. Carl Dahlen’s drums sonically lead the way, crafting a stellar template for everyone else. Dahlen’s rhythm section cohort, bassist Robert Terreberry, further helps lock in the grooves over Caleb Quick’s keys. In addition to lead guitar work, Jon Pontrello taught himself pedal steel since the last record, and it’s intentionally not employed (as a matter of band philosophy) on the more country-leaning tunes, instead adding a more cosmic feel to the heaviest tracks.
What has The Moondoggies found inside of themselves in the years they’ve been gone that makes A Love Sleeps Deep stand out? What’s come to the forefront?
“Rawness,” says Blood. “Like a monster singing lullabies.”