Ian Moore only gets better. Someday, he may even find a way to improve on To Be Loved, but it's hard to see how. All the pieces seem at last to fit seamlessly. His arrangements are as artful as they are complex, belying only a bit of his fondness for psychedelia, but mostly unified in a lush, organic, pop ballad synthesis.
With each new release, Moore seems to jettison vestiges of his musical past, while retaining what he's learned from it. Beginning with 1999's Ian Moore's Got the Green Grass, he bailed on his potential future as a guitar god, and diverted his focus to his singing--agile and fluid, if occasionally histrionic. In 2000, And All the Colors ... found him getting serious about songwriting, emerging, too, as a gifted arranger. The title revealed a genre-bending adventure, incorporating the sitar sounds from his childhood in India and the conjunto flavors of his childhood years in Texas, as well as the blues and soul that infused his prodigy years as a regular onstage guest at Austin's legendary Antone's.
With his last release, Luminaria, in 2004, Moore started to embrace subtlety. The influences were toned down, as was his phrasing, and the songwriting became more literate. To Be Loved finds an overall brighter texture in Moore's arrangements, and an expert use of dynamics for dramatic emphasis. Having located his center, he seems to have settled in confidently.
Tucson fans have been among his most enduring, and he's chosen to reward them by holding a CD-release party at Club Congress on Friday, Oct. 12. Doors are at 9 p.m., and the cover is $10.