At times lush and full and at other times sparse and personal, Bitter Ballads & Cynical Prayers is the debut full-length album from Nashville-based artist Chris Moyse. It releases on March 20.
After winning the New Folk songwriting competition at the 2017 Kerrville Folk Fest, Moyse found himself back at the drawing board. “I was trying to live up to some sort of standard in my songs which can cripple creativity,” he says. “I had to learn how to write again and trust my instincts.” The result was a batch of 10 songs that is some of his most personal work yet.
Songs like “Time’s Gonna Tell” and “Dancing Round a Fire” offer up a different approach to break-up songs, weaving imagery together into brief snapshots of a person moving on from heartache with a sense of hope. “Live Till We Die” and “Hurricane Blues” feature fictional characters wrestling with topics such as death, family, and finding one’s place in the world.
On “I’m Not Your Man,” Moyse picks a Leonard Cohen-esque guitar part while singing, “I belong to the highway / I belong to these strings / I belong where the wild wind blows / I belong to the song I sing.” It evokes a sense of growth and coming to terms with yourself. Produced by Shawn Byrne (who has worked with artists such as Mark Knopfler and Mary Gauthier), the record was made at two different studios in Nashville with a stellar cast of musicians.