There's an emotional force on Moby's surprisingly soulful collection.
Since relocating to Los Angeles a few years ago after decades in New York, the artist formerly known as Richard Melville Hall seems to have loosened up, spread his wings and embraced a broad new community of fellow musicians. Nodding to the stately techno-blues sound of the phenomenally successful Play, Moby’s 11th album features a host of guest vocalists plus a lush overall studio sheen courtesy of Mark “Spike” Stent, the British producer whose credits include U2, Madonna, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. It is a rich mix, from the surging gospel-fired roar of The Perfect Life, featuring Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, to Mark Lanegan’s parched desert-blues ballad The Lonely Night and the uplifting A Case for Shame, a collaboration with the young Canadian neo-folk singer Cold Specks and the Brooklyn-based soul diva Inyang Bassey. Moby’s own vocals are sparse, but he croaks his patented Joy Division croak on the doomy electro-rock finale The Dogs. The underlying songwriting formula feels familiar, and sometimes uninspired: lots of slow-building, endlessly rolling chord patterns layered with melancholy euphoria. But there is also great warmth and emotional force on this surprisingly soulful collection.