Video: John Moreland Drops Powerful Video for Folk-Rock Track 'Gentle Violence'

Moreland went completely off-grid for six months to make his latest album.

By: May. 07, 2024
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Esteemed singer-songwriter John Moreland has released a powerful video for folk-rock track “Gentle Violence.” Directed by Rahul Chakraborty, the video stars actors Jonah Lewis and Drew Pollock, who powerfully portray a family battling addiction and substance abuse.

Alongside the video, Moreland encourages fans to donate what they can to Tulsa's Zen Recovery organization HERE which helps people in recovery. The video was premiered by Brooklyn Vegan, who have praised John’s recent album Visitor stating, “John’s delivery is mellow but devastating, with melodies that wrap around you like a warm blanket and one-liners that stop you dead in your tracks.” 

Zen Recovery Inc is a nonprofit organization based in Tulsa, Oklahoma that provides weekly addiction recovery support meetings (called Zen & the Art of Whatever Works) and sober community events. Radical recovery with a patchwork approach – Religion free, judgement free, harm reduction-focused and inclusive.

Chakraborty stated, “John Moreland’s genius songwriting allowed me to incorporate elements of magical realism within the story, oftentimes conveying emotional states while allowing the audience to interpret the experience independently. The story itself demanded an incredibly intimate approach, so for most scenes we kept the camera at a distance and had minimal setups to create our world- giving our actors the grace to let their craft shine.”

On the song Moreland stated, “Gentle Violence is a song about a strained relationship with a loved one, in the hyper-political post-pandemic USA. The tension and sorrow around the tough relationship are a microcosm of the tension and sorrow we feel as citizens of this broken world. ”

The song features on new album Visitor, a deeply thoughtful and instantly compelling new album which is out now digitally via his label Old Omens via Thirty Tigers, a vinyl release will follow on May 31. An album for our troubled times, recorded after a year in isolation from the chaotic world around him, Moreland perfectly encapsulates the political and personal, on a record that showcases his razor sharp insight, impressive multi-instrumentalism, and his arresting and rich vocals throughout. 

Moreland’s also announced additional US tour dates including two nights at Los Angeles’ Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever on September 5-6, San Francisco’s The Chapel on September 7 , Portland’s Wonder Ballroom on September 11, Seattle’s Neumos on September 12 and Nashville’s The Basement East on October 8. He plays Washington D.C’s Miracle Theatre this evening, Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock on Friday May 10 and Brooklyn Made in Brooklyn on Saturday May 11 - Tickets to the tour are available now HERE.

In November 2022, Moreland stopped working entirely. He took an entire year off from playing shows and didn’t use a smartphone for 6 months. “At the end of that year, I was just like ‘Nobody call me’. I needed to not do anything for a while and just process,” Moreland says. After nearly a decade in the limelight, constantly jostled by the expectations of his audience, the music industry, and anonymous strangers online, he carved out some time to rest, heal, and reflect for the first time.

The result of that unplugged year at home is Visitor.  Moreland recorded the album at his home in Bixby, Oklahoma, in only ten days, playing nearly every instrument himself (his wife Pearl Rachinsky sang on one song, and his longtime collaborator John Calvin Abney contributed a guitar solo), as well as engineering and mixing the album. "In 2023, during a year-long break from touring, in an attempt to regain my sanity, I stopped using a smart phone for 6 months, and wrote this album.” Moreland stated, adding, “I recorded it in my living room, with help from my wife, Pearl Rachinsky. I wanted to make a natural sounding folk-rock record. Simplicity and immediacy felt very important to the process, so I knocked out the tracking in about 10 days, playing every instrument on the album myself, save for one guitar solo (John Calvin Abney - The More You Say, The Less It Means), and Pearl contributed some bgv's on one song (Ain't Much I Can Do About It). Lyrical themes include digital life vs actual life, a bit of "What the hell is up with the world?," and a whole bunch of "What the hell is wrong with me?"

Moreland begins the album where he begins his year-long process of healing: doom scrolling through images of political turmoil, war, and environmental destruction, in a trio of surprisingly hooky folk songs that address present-day social realities more directly than any previous John Moreland songs. On opening track “The Future Is Coming Fast”, Moreland describes the perpetually logged-on life in a time of rolling catastrophe over gentle fingerpicking, exploring how in order to cope with our digitally mediated lives, where we constantly bear witness to ongoing disasters while feeling powerless to do anything about them.

So what’s Moreland’s solution to this impasse? Simplicity. No shows for a whole year. No smartphone. No studio time. No additional musicians. There are even two haunting instrumental interludes that Moreland tracked live with a field recorder during late-night country drives - Who knew that, on top of everything else, Moreland plays the mandolin and fiddle? Stripping his sound back to its core, his arresting vocals are so intimate it feels like you are in the vocal booth together. Both seismic and subtle, his songs the unsettling “One Man Holds The World Hostage” and folk rocker “Gentle Violence” reflect on the personal while challenging the status quo.

On “Gentle Violence,” Moreland stated, “Gentle Violence is a song about a strained relationship with a loved one, in the hyper-political post-pandemic USA. The tension and sorrow around the tough relationship are a microcosm of the tension and sorrow we feel as citizens of this broken world.”

John Moreland is known for writing lines that hit you in the gut, but many of the best moments on Visitor are more subtle. The significance of one of the record’s best lines, from “The More You Say, The Less It Means,” may take multiple listens to fully sink in: “Some folks say and some folks know”. This line sums up John Moreland’s worldview very neatly. It lays out the dichotomy of truth and lies that Moreland has spent his entire career examining, but now more elegantly than ever.

Moreland has been an outlier and walked his own path his entire career which began when he made major industry impact in 2010s with an impressive run of albums that earned him a devoted fanbase, accolades from outlets like The New York Times, Fresh Air, and Pitchfork and a place in the upper echelon of modern American singer-songwriters. Then Moreland highlighted his fierce artistic independence and released a brilliant and sonically layered folk-electronica meditation on modern alienation, 2022’s Birds In The Ceiling, that took some of his fans by surprise. Once again he went against the grain when after wrapping up a difficult tour behind that record he shut out the world and made Visitor, arguably the best album of his career. Celebrating his ingenuity of songcraft, thoughtful lyricism and a possession of a singular voice - one that  will further establish John Moreland as one of the great singer-songwriters of his generation.

TRACK LIST

Tue, 5/7 - Washington DC - Miracle Theatre ^

Thu, 5/9 - Ardmore, PA - The Ardmore Music Hall ^

Fri, 5/10 - Woodstock, NY - Levon Helm Studios ^

Sat, 5/11 - New York, NY - Brooklyn Made ^

Thu, 5/30 - Spring Green, WI - sty Barn - SOLD OUT ^

Fri, 5/31 - Evanston, IL - SPACE ^

Sat, 6/1 - Evanston, IL - SPACE ^

Sun, 6/2 - Minneapolis, MN - The Cedar Cultural Center ^

Tue, 6/4 - Bloomington, IL - Castle Theatre ^

Wed, 6/5 - Ann Arbor, MI - The Ark ^

Fri, 6/7 - Madison, IN - Red Bicycle Hall ^

Sat, 6/8 - Glasgow, KY - The Grove ^

Thu, 9/5 - Los Angeles, CA - Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever *

Fri, 9/6 - Los Angeles, CA - Masonic Lodge @ Hollywood Forever *

Sat, 9/7 - San Francisco, CA - The Chapel *

Wed, 9/11 - Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom *

Thu, 9/12 - Seattle, WA - Neumos *

Sat, 9/14 - Salt Lake City, UT - The State Room *

Tue, 9/17 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theater *

Tue, 9/24 - Cape Girardeau, MO - Scout Hall

Fri, 9/27 - Tulsa, OK - Cain's Ballroom *

Tue, 10/8 - Nashville, TN - The Basement East

Thu, 10/10 - Knoxville, TN - Bijou Theatre

Feb 28 - Mar 7, 2025 - Cayamo Cruise

* w/ Justin Bloss
^ w/ Ken Pomeroy

photo credit: Pearl Rachinsky



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