Big Bad Luv is the fourth solo LP from Americana artist John Moreland, a rusty-voiced troubadour from Oklahoma whose career has been picking up steam since bursting onto the scene with a trio of releases in 2011. Initially emerging out of Tulsa's punk and hardcore scene, Moreland shifted toward alt-country in the mid-2000s and made his name backed first by the Black Gold Band then by his second group, the Dust Bowl Souls, before eventually going solo. He's bounced around with a couple of labels and landed a handful of songs on FX's Sons of Anarchy, but Big Bad Luv marks his debut for revered U.K. alternative label 4AD. With his amiable heartland feel and Springsteen-ian tone, Moreland is a bit of an odd match with the label better known for records by Cocteau Twins and Pixies, but perhaps a change of perspective will bring new fans to his honest American songcraft. Recorded in Little Rock, Arkansas and backed by a band of long-tenured Tulsa players, Moreland produced Big Bad Luv himself before sending it off to studio veteran Tchad Blake (Robert Plant, the Black Keys) to mix. From the crackling barroom energy of "Sallisaw Blues" to more subdued fare like the fingerpicked "No Glory in Regret," he warmly delivers tales of love, sorrow, redemption in the no-frills style he's become known for. While it's stylistically no great departure from his earlier output, it feels like the logical next destination on his journey.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger