With the dawn of the New Year comes Alpenglow, the first full length album from North Carolina native Cameron Moore. In case you're wondering, the title is in reference to an optical effect where a rosy light appears in the sky (usually seen on mountain peaks) at dawn and dusk when the sun is just below the horizon. Moore's 10-track record is a journey through the night beginning at sunset with "Alpenglow (Part 1)" and ending with the sun's return in "Alpenglow (Part 2)".
The album begins suddenly and dramatically, underscored by chords pounded out on the piano while Moore sings, "In hindsight I could've walked away/But I closed my eyes/Closed them all the way." It's the beginning of a dark night of the soul for Moore as he wrestles with his faith and the way he expresses it is helpful. Most tend to view the walk of Christianity as either moving forward or backward. But Moore stands still and closes his eyes, neither progressing nor regressing. It's a gray area that he stands in through the night on this record. Two metaphors that Moore leans on through the course of his journey are roads and rain. The road is an obvious picture of how we live life, but the rain seems to reference the cleansing grace of God making all things new. The sound he crafts is an atmospheric pop/rock that bolsters the mood of the songs.
Through "P.S. Love Awaits," "Hold On" and "Storm the Bastille (20 Years a Slave)" Moore wrestles with the night, taking turns addressing the listener in "P.S. Love Awaits" and giving his perspective in "Storm the Bastille." Though much is made in these songs of the futility of life and the weariness of wandering along the road, a light of hope and the presence of rain always hang in the background. Moore approaches these topics in a poetic way that is at once approachable on a surface level but leaves enough a few feet down for repeat listens.
With "12, Rain," Moore begins a turn toward the dawn. Though feeling bogged down by current events, he looks forward to Christ's return, singing, "But I know there will come a day/When the skies break/And rain." This sentiment is beautifully hammered home in the bridge as he declares, "Some time out/Post the pain-filled drought/We'll turn around/And watch it fall." Life begins to warm in his bones again on "Wayfare" while he revels in God's pursuit of him in "You Found Me" and "Still We Run." "You Found Me" contains one of the few hiccups as Moore rests on an overused cliché in the first verse, though the rest of the song is not hampered by this. "One-Nine" finds him drawing strength and encouragement from Joshua 1:9 and challenging himself, "As you look ahead/Do you reminisce/Of a different time/Or God's faithfulness?" These songs are layered also and feature Moore testing his vocal range to good effect.
As the rosy sun dawns, Moore emerges from his darkness to say "Hello sunrise/As I open my eyes." He did not walk away, but instead found faith to carry on. His overarching journey on Alpenglow may not be ground-breaking, but I found it very enjoyable. The way he wrestles with darkness feels fresh, weaving poetry with heartfelt emotion that never strays too deep into depression. He closes his eyes and struggles, but opens them again with renewed hope. I could write on and dive deeper into this near-perfect album, but I'll leave that exploration to the curious listener who will allow Moore to take them down this road and walk in the rain. You may not have been anticipating this release, but it is one you should pay attention to and look for more from this artist in the future.
- Review date: 1/24/18, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com