Denai Moore’s Twitter bio describes herself as ’23. Genre free. Heart full of gold, stomach full of tea’ and these feelings of youth, musical freedom, love and a little whimsy are woven into the expansive sounds and lyrical textures of her lovely second album We Used to Bloom.
Hearing honest and true representations of women’s experiences has never felt so necessary and important. Let it happen, could be a statement about her love life or her sound but also her own mind. You feel your heart breaking for her when she sings, I thought I was never worth having. She might suffer from insecurity but she’s trying to change, to just let things happen. You feel the confidence in herself and her music growing quietly throughout the album.
From the title Desolately Devoted you might think this would be a heartbreaker but instead Moore sings with joy about the power of her love. The layers of sounds on this song include some lovely brass mixed with soulful beats. Her vocals sound gorgeous and the gospel backup really takes your breath away.
Trickle deals with anxiety and how it can take over your life. These feelings attack randomly, if you never see them coming it’s hard to know how to deal with the consequences. She sings they ‘will trickle into you, like floods find corners’ and the sounds echo her distress. There is such honestly in her songwriting, it is quietly devastating.
So this point in the album feels like the time to cover Elliott Smith, a songwriter who knew how to find specks of beauty and light in desolation. Moore covers his song Twilight, which explores the tension in relationships. Her love for someone is complicated because she’s already somebody’s baby. This song fits seamlessly onto the album in terms of sound and theme, which shows the strength of her own songwriting.
This album doesn’t shy away from dealing with issues around society and politics too. Do They Care? explores the many complex problems in the world today which have been addressed by the Black Lives Matter movement. She sings, with this same breath/Another one slips away and you feel the weight of sadness so heavy it suffocates. It’s got a slow and stripped back beat, with violins, and eventually a chorus of voices joins in to show how together we have the power to do something. It’s a poignant and perfect. Poor Person also deals with how society perceives and judges people.
Leave it Up to You has a simple beat and vocal that feels a little like FKA Twigs, who she has previously covered. Bring You Shame uses a simple guitar sound, it’s minimal sounds lets her voice shine, before building towards the end. It’s easier to be hard on myself, she sings in a regretful way. She knows this is not the right way to be. This is expanded into the next song Does it Get Easier? where she questions her own feelings and realises why it’s important to love herself. It’s the same old things that will bring you down, she knows she can find inner strength to turn things around. After all life is too damn short to worry this much.
The final track All the Way features Kwabs on guest vocals and the voices compliment each other beautifully. I love the orchestral flourishes in this song. They say be careful with your heart, she sings but she’s ready to defy that advice. It’s a glorious end to the album.
A flower only lasts for a short time but the plants still keep surviving after they’re gone. You have to keep growing, you can’t give up, even if life can feel impossible sometimes. Denai Moore brings all these themes to bloom throughout this wonderful album.