Quentin Moore was billed as a neo soul artist scheduled to perform Saturday night at Oklahoma City’s Urban Roots. When I arrived at the Deep Deuce getaway midway through his first set, however, I was delighted to learn that Mr. Moore leaned perhaps a tad bit less on the “neo” side than one might expect given his youthful exuberance, but carried quite a generous amount of musical muscle on the soul side, serving up Texas sized portions of the latter with a smile and a steaming side order of funk. In fact one might say Quentin Moore is more of a renovated, acoustically infused, classic soul reincarnation than a neo soul artist. Often sounding like a throwback to a sorely missed era dominated by the likes of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, especially when performing original grooves like “Natural Sista” and “I Could Fall in Love”, the soulful stalwart entertained with ease as he seamlessly transitioned between old and new covers and original songs from his eclectic new album, “You Forgot Your Heart.”
Though I’ve never really been a huge fan of comparing artists to other artists, regardless of the era, some artists’ styles and sounds naturally either conjure up the ghosts of legends past or embody the essence of those yet present with us. Quentin Moore somehow manages to do both, invoking unavoidable mental comparisons to myriad facets and musical traits of some of the greats while still maintaining his own unique artistic identity. Indeed, the best description I can offer to paint a picture of Moore’s presence and sound is perhaps Mayfield-meets-Maxwell, a gritty urban storytelling flair with a fearless falsetto, blended with a smooth, eccentric bohemian vibe that appeals to the ladies. The old intersects with the new to form Moore’s distinct signature, and the result is remarkable.
Moore, who originally hails from Austin and currently resides in Dallas, has a funky, smooth style that flows naturally. It never feels like he’s trying. He’s just simply being, and it’s magical. His boundless, quasi-frenetic yet controlled playful energy at times made it seem like his audience was being entertained by the coolest six year old in the world. He laughed, joked and played, at times seeming to be having a better time than we were, and we were plenty engulfed in bliss as we listened to his unscripted, honest-to-goodness artistry. Often invoking crowd participation – and sometimes barely receiving it – he kept on keeping on with an even greater enthusiasm. By the time he was ready to close his final set, he was working the room, sans instrument, and putting the mic in patrons’ faces, ready or not, for his last cover. Even when he encountered one who was more than ready (local artist Soul Secure, whose sultry voice commanded recognition), Moore stood there holding the microphone and urging her to give us more. By the end, he had completely won over the room with his fearlessness and virtuosity.
Though he seemed quite at home tickling the keys as he released his sometimes ambitious yet effortless vocal runs into the Urban Roots atmosphere, he proved equally adept on the acoustic guitar, returning from an intermission with a playful yet masterful cover of Prince’s “Kiss” mashed up with a little old school “Boogie Shoes,” including an extended ending of Kiss that he made all his own. Not to leave out the younger adult crowd that had assembled for a taste of Moore, he graciously threw in a little “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean, among other more recent grooves.
Then it was back to work for Quentin, though the artist made it seem like play, treating us to an upbeat, everybody-can-relate jam called “Y.O.L.O.” (You Only Live Once), another original from his album. Y.O.L.O. is a courageous, catchy declaration of independence from “working 9 to 5, just to fulfill somebody else’s dream”, a theme that resonated with the artist-laden audience, and seemed to provide yet another piece to the puzzle of the old-soul artistic enigma that is Quentin Moore.
Moore followed up with “Witch”, a brave tune he dedicated to the fellas and playfully yet wisely prefaced with a disclaimer that it was not about the ladies in the room, but about their homegirls who weren’t present. He worked his magic yet again and somehow emerged from the calculated lyrical risk with the ladies still firmly entrenched on his side, a testament to his infectious charm. A less smooth and engaging fellow could not have pulled it off.
Not to leave the ladies out there hanging – after all, his adoring audience was predominantly comprised of them – Moore wisely returned to the less risky proposition of love ballads, with which he could not, and did not, miss the mark. His smooth as butter “I Wanna Be in Love” reaffirmed that all was forgiven for “Witch” as necks gently nodded and shoulders slowly swayed in approval of the earthy groove. Next up was an impromptu cover of Gaye’s classic “Let’s Get it On”, which he decided upon based on suggestions from the audience. (That suggestion came from my table mate, again Ms. Soul Secure, who by this point had all but totally abandoned our conversation – as had I - to listen in fascination as this Quentin guy crooned.)
Next came Quentin’s tour de force, and the final original song of the night: a heart stirring “wedding song” titled “So In Love”, which must be heard to be fully appreciated for its breathtaking brilliance and beauty. Then came the final song of the night, unfortunately. That curtain call would be the aforementioned cover in which the audience got involved. The song: “Good Lovin’” by Bob Marley. It provided an exclamation point on the evening and let us know unequivocally that any attempt at all to categorize and define Quentin Moore would be short sighted and uninformed. Inform us he did. Quentin Moore is the truth, he’s versatile, and he’s here to stay.
The night gradually took on a sublimely surreal flair, going from the unspoken question of “who is Quentin Moore” that was on the minds of all but his modest, loyal entourage who traveled with him from Dallas, to the feeling that the now mesmerized, grateful audience had been thoroughly entertained and subtly captivated by a young Nubian version of “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” Moore’s “You Forgot Your Heart” album, he shared with us, had reached number three on the U.K. Soul charts, a nod to his universal appeal and undeniable talent.
And now, on his first time performing at Urban Roots – but hopefully not his last – Quentin Moore had won over a whole new city of fans. He has already conquered the U.K. Next up: The World.
Support Quentin Moore in the following ways:
VISIT his website: http://www.qmooremusic.com
BUY his album, “You Forgot Your Heart”, on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, cdBaby or BandCamp
LIKE him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/qmooremusic
FOLLOW him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/QMooreMusic
And keep your eyes and ears open for, well, Moore.
Much respect, Quentin Moore. See you again real soon.
Brian C. Scott