Album Review: Elizabeth Moen — ‘A Million Miles Away’

Mission Creek Festival: Hurray for the Riff Raff w/ Elizabeth Moen, Nadalands

Englert Theatre — Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m.

Months after its initial release, I still feel my ear pleading for another listen of Elizabeth Moen’s third album, A Million Miles Away. While Moen has always possessed a certain sage sound, her junior album ups the stakes — her tone has matured in its cascading depths. She and her Gibson croon along, perfectly in sync. This album, more than others, feels purposefully unpolished. But resting where the tidiness and order could be is its heart. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Moen proves a point in A Million Miles Away, showcasing her musical prowess alongside her love for the fruits of her creation. Not only does she carry the emotional torch present in her earlier work, but this album burns with experimentation. Her passionate disposition allows her to pull out all the stops without any cloying remnants. This is especially evident in “Time Is a Shitty Friend,” which has moments of heavy blues and light psychedelia to it, and “Matilda” and “Planetarium,” which both possess a charming creativity and expansion of sound.

On “Best I Can Do,” her beautiful rasp delivers her plea to “let me love you” in the most beautiful way. We often overuse the word beautiful, leaving the real meaning by the wayside. But rest assured, I truly mean beautiful when I’m talking about how Moen roams through these verses.

When listening to Moen’s voice, there is pulchritude in her sad songs and melancholy in her optimistic instrumentals. It’s all mixed up in the most lovable way. A Million Miles Away masters an oxymoronic art of gleeful lament. Her’s is a sadness that wraps around tight and warm — right in its wrong sensation. It’s the comfort of Moen’s relatability. Her engaging presence felt during live performances is palpable throughout her latest album. Despite the album title, Moen feels closer than ever.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 261.

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