On Viking Moses

I went on this tour for two years and I was just like, ‘I’m hittin’ the road and this is what I’m doing: I’m just going to dedicate myself to playing shows and I’m not going to say no to anybody and I’m not going to charge. I’m just gonna get what I get and I’m gonna go until I just can’t go anymore…’ and that lasted about two years before I was like, ‘Man, I’m really tired. I gotta stop this.’ ”

It’s been a long road for Viking Moses, performing alias of troubadour Brendon Massei. Since 1994, the Missouri-born songwriter has been on the move, crashing in such places as Las Vegas, Kansas City, Chicago, New York, Providence, Nottingham, and Scotland. With nearly 15 years of constant touring and moving about, Viking Moses just released his second full-length album, The Parts that Showed.

The album follows the folk tradition, staying the course of a single narrative throughout the 13 tracks. The story is that of a teenage prostitute who uses the money she makes to buy ice cream for children in the neighborhood, and of a sexually obsessed man who lusts for her. The songs are not stifled by the narrative; however, they present an array of perspectives and span what seems like a lifetime in this strange backwoods town: dogs chase after adulterous lovers, brown grass waves in fields like you would expect it to, and characters grow old and go back in time.

What Viking Moses leaves us with is a colorful portrait of a place we’re not sure exists, and we’re not sure whether we want it to exist. The songs can be despairing and playful in the same breath; the ease of simple country arrangements often belies the darkness of the lyrics. The conversational approach of songs like “One Arm Around the Sinner” and “Ma Moses” makes the listener feel impossibly close to the characters. Without pretension, Viking Moses presents his imagined narrative as if it is all he’s learned these last 15 years going between places.

Now on another seemingly endless tour, Viking Moses stopped by the WRCT station with his tourmate and sidekick Golden Ghost (Laura Goetz) to play a few songs and talk about time on the road, sustaining life via food service jobs, and the endless glory of Dolly Parton.

-M. Callen