In recent years the Lantern Society at the Betsy Trotwood pub in Farringdon has grown into one of the premier singer-songwriter/folk evenings in London. It attracts diverse artists and audiences not only from around London, but nationally and internationally too. At the night’s centre is Gabriel Moreno, a supremely skilled host, who brings a wild coherence and a central focus to the experience, weaving his own evocative poems and music with other performers, while achieving the difficult balance between regulars and new faces (or as he describes them, ‘lantern virgins’). I first came across the night around a year ago – I was still new to London, but a few friends had recommended it independently of one another; I was quickly struck by his originality as a performer and as a personality.
Hailing from Gibraltar, Gabriel has now been performing and writing in London for five years. His music defies easy categorisation, and though folk-troubadours like Leonard Cohen initially spring to mind, his style is very much his own. It combines melancholic minor key melodies, accompanied by a sparsely evocative Spanish guitar, and often surreal and morally ambiguous lyrics.
I was lucky enough to have an advanced listen of Gabriel’s debut album Love and Decadence, which is being released on this label on October 12th. Recorded and mixed between London and Barcelona, the album is clearly a labour of love; much time and work has gone into getting these songs exactly right. Extra layers of depth are achieved through subtle and sensitive accompaniment (which include striking combinations of cello and violin, as well as occasional blasts of mariachi-like trumpet).
Love and Decadence conjures up a world of darkness and regret, as well as pleasure and romance. At first it appears to be transporting the listener back to a distant, bohemian world, one ‘all covered in smoke’. Yet something about his style and world view speaks to our present moment too; one that seeks pleasure amid the gritty, tough realities of the world.
Gabriel Moreno’s Love and Decadence will be launched on Friday 9th of October at Karamel in Wood Green, the album is out on the 12th of October.