MACKENZIE MOORE – Out of Nowhere

CD Reviews 10 Oct 2022

MACKENZIE MOORE – Out of Nowhere

2022 (Self-Release)

Out of Nowhere is available on all streaming platforms.

Physical copies are currently available at live shows.

You can catch Mackenzie Moore at the Bur Oak on Wednesday, October 19th. You can bet co-billing Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets will be adding some sweet backup vocals.


It’s time to talk about Mackenzie Moore.

While the earnest singer/songwriter has performed on the club scene for some time now, mostly as a soloist with an acoustic guitar, it’s this official debut album release that has been much anticipated. As it happens, she’s gotten off the recording artist starting line in style with a full-length, ten-song collection – not an EP of teaser songs – although it might not be exactly what her fans would have imagined.

With Out of Nowhere, Moore confirms that she’s not a fledgling post-Girls-Rock-Camp artist, but a fully formed one, with a remarkable, natural songwriting ease, a mature voice and lyrical wisdom that belies her twenty-one years.

The album was recorded at Paradyme Productions with Jake Johnson producing, engineering and mixing while also adding keyboards, percussion, electric guitar and bass. Undoubtedly he had a hand in the arrangements as well and this is where the unexpected part comes in. Fans of Moore may have been thinking they would get a stripped-down, confessional document of what she’s been doing live (mostly). Instead, Out of Nowhere is a polished production both in the process and the arrangements. But all of that never gives way to the star of the recording which is Moore’s vocal styling. In fact, this does not sound like a debut album at all, but one from an artist who’s blazed a bit more of her trail. Here is where Johnson deserves a lot of credit. Moore has plans to relocate in March (sadly, as many Madison artists have done, to L.A.) and Johnson has given her a fine calling card that, with luck, will yield results for her.

There are a few different styles represented here and that gives potential A&R or management some options. There is the pop side, the rock side and the more stripped-down version. Even so, the album has a consistent flow to it; the songs sound organic at their core.

Perhaps most surprising is the rock side, represented by one song, “Arrow.” The energy here is gripping with Jenna Joanis on drums, although it doesn’t fully kick in until after four stanzas. Moore goes in more of a Courtney Barnett angle on this one; an interesting direction for her.

Opening the album with a smooth-pop selection like “More Than This,” with programmed beats, strong vocal doubling and harmonization, orchestrated keyboards and an unexpected level of production is ballsy and eye-opening. The song establishes much of what’s to come; verses flow into choruses and neat turnarounds bring it all back seamlessly and this is true of every song. Melodically, they’re all memorable. “Mannequin” employs more acoustic guitar and piano. “When the World Still Moved” is a great expression of pandemic-induced frustration and longing. The orchestrated keys return here to dramatic effect; the arrangement concise and effective. “No Thanks to You” is like a declaration of purpose wrapped in a pop arrangement: “I’ve been used / I’ve been weaponized / I was brave / but not wise / Now I don’t need the lows to feel high / Got no need to apologize / I’m doing fine…They want answers / I want truth / See the lies and cut through / I always knew it was no thanks to you.” “Me and You” and “Haunted” are far more bouncy with a strong bass line. They sound a bit Swift-y but are catchy as hell.

A couple songs reflect the more confessional singer-songwriter. Both these tracks are supported by Leo Albertoni’s organ, revealing soulful balladry. “When You Were Mine” flows with ease. “Out of Nowhere” is a gem. Here the vocals, with backing from Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets, get positively angelic. Great way to end an album.

Through all of this it’s Moore’s vocals that steal the show; confident and delivered with a stylistic slur that adds appeal. Her voice seems especially suitable for harmonizing and achieving that is what makes Out of Nowhere so memorable.


About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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