John Moreland Fort York, Toronto ON, September 16

John Moreland Fort York, Toronto ON, September 16
Photo: Lindsey Blane
One of the most consistently impressive songwriters in Americana, Oklahoma's John Moreland has been quietly building a following among fans of the kind of dark, meditative folk music that used to rule the genre. At once reminiscent of Nebraska-era Springsteen and late 1990s Tom Waits, Moreland's voice is thick with emotion and drama. Moreland draws you in with his acoustic guitar and expert turns of phrase. 
During his brief 30-minute set, Moreland ran through several of his best songs from last year's terrific High on Tulsa Heat (including "Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars" and "American Flags in Black & White"), the at-first diminutive audience building steadily as he played. And you know what? No one around me spoke to one another in the blistering afternoon sunshine. This reticent, static man and his guitar were simply mesmerizing.
During "God's Medicine" (with its aching refrain of "It's times like these I forget why I quit loving you") I watched a grown woman break right down and cry. It was a magical moment on a Friday afternoon.