Moors and McCumber, singer-songwriter James Moors and multi-talented Kort McCumber, have a long history as musicians on their own and as a duo. Both of them were prolific as solo artists, then they bonded at a music festival in 2005, bringing their separate talents together into something new.
Moors and McCumber, singer-songwriter James Moors and gifted composer Kort McCumber, have a long history as musicians both on their own and as a duo. Both of them were prolific as solo artists, before they met at a music festival in 2005, and bonded, bringing their separate talents together into something even better.
Survival opens with “Lean Into the Light” the refrain declaring, “The trees have got it right, lean into the light.” The song is catchy, and not overly simplistic, with a simple but effective message, which seems to be the formula for many of Moors and McCumber’s songs. “Better Way” which follows this song is similarly about mental health, though it takes a bleaker approach, and the message gets lost a little, though the song as a whole is well crafted, with fitting instrumentation. “What Would Love Do Now” is the third song on the album and another example of a catchy line about the struggles of life though it has more of a contemplative and solemn tone than “Lean Into the Light”. The lyrics never actually tell us what love would do now, whether it would make things better or just sink the already leaking ship. The listeners have to answer the question for themselves.
Watch the video for “Survival” below
“Survival” , the album’s titular song, is another lament about the struggles of life featuring a mixed instrumentation and strong percussion. The message of this song is perhaps the answer that we were looking for in the previous one. “Love is what we need… Love is working overtime”. It’s a sweet message which fits in well with the piano melody and almost gospel like layered vocals. “I’ve Held On As Long As I Can” picks up the pace a bit, despite dark lyrics. Fast paced percussion and bright harmonica open for a song about personal struggle and burnout. “Tear Down the Walls” brings this pace down again, with slow and contemplative strings and harmonica opening up the tune. This song does bring an interesting shift to the formula, singing to someone and reaching out, rather than in.
“Sugar in the Blood” is a big divergence from the rest of the album. It has a darker and heavier style, and a topic to match. The song takes on racism and classism, clearly written as a response to current events. “There’s Always Something” is a return to form. It’s a song about mental health and the anxieties of taking a big leap. “Out to Sea” the penultimate song of the album is another interesting break from form, and feels very experimental. While all of the songs in the album use vocal harmonies this one in particular takes on dissonance. The effect is impressive, adding disquiet to the feeling of the song. The final song on the album, “The Mess We’re In” , is one more strangely jaunty tune about a serious topic. It’s far more upbeat than the songs that precede it, as it captures the story of hiding a failing relationship.
Overall, Moors and McCumber have a strong style, and they stick to it. This album is for the most part made up of catchy and contemplative songs about life’s struggles. It is full of slow building intensity and complex arrangements. If you’re interested in contemplating, and swaying along to the music as you do, give them a shot.