Despite not releasing a full album for nearly 10 years, Phil Moore of Bowerbirds is back with becalmyounglovers, an introspective record that he expands more on with Cindy Howes on her Basic Folk podcast.
Covering not only music but also Moore’s deep-rooted affinity for nature and straightforward approach when it comes to songwriting, the conversation is a candid glimpse into what compelled the indie-folk singer to return to Bowerbirds despite not being joined by his former bandmate and partner, Beth Tacular.
The album, written in a cabin formerly shared by the two of them, was a way for Moore to be in solitude and process the end of that relationship the best way he knew how: through music. In his eyes, music-making is a sort of artistic therapy, and after finishing this album he felt he was a “clearer person.”
“Songs are like therapy, they’re always good to tackle,” Moore says. “So with the songs, just tackling something that’s like in the recesses deep in there, and it is like taking a pickaxe to it and getting it, unearthing it. And with every song, especially on this album, I was getting through something.”
As far as what this therapy process looks like in regards to his songwriting, he explains that though some people might call it “channelling” he views it more as yielding to mistakes and going from there.
“If you just do it and you keep an open mind to what’s coming in, or what you’re doing or whatever it is, you get to use those mistakes and then find new avenues. I think that’s an exciting part of writing music or doing anything really,” he says.
When asked if that means he’s learned from his mistakes, he adds, “I don’t even know if I learned from mistakes, but I learned that I like making mistakes. I like to try new things and I don’t master hardly any of them. Because that’s not really my favorite part of it.”
In a similar way when it comes to his birdwatching, Moore admits he doesn’t know everything about every bird, but the act of being in nature and watching it undisturbed is something he needs to recharge and gain perspective.
“I just love what it does for me. It’s just like a point of focus when I go out in nature,” Moore shares. “Now, I like to take photographs of birds and go out and spend like an hour just by myself in the woods and take photographs of birds. And for no point except for it just makes me feel better about my day.”
Through their conversation—which also touches on his early life, how he manages anxiety and more—it’s easy to find that Moore’s insight on artistry, his outlook on life and earnest songwriting has kept fans patiently waiting all these years.
Check out becalmyounglovers and this episode of Basic Folk now.