When Alec Ounsworth mumble-yelps the line "Holy, holy holy Moses. / Don't you feel me holy Moses," on his debut solo album Mo Beauty, his nasally voice lacks the irony and singsong lilt that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah fans have come to expect. The track is a haunted, piano-and guitar-laced meditation on post-Katrina New Orleans, a tune that would seem equally at home ringing through a musty church as it would being sung to his feet while strumming his guitar in a dilapidated back alley. Though "Holy, Holy, Holy Moses (Song for New Orleans)" isn't really an indicator of the rest of the album--Mo Beauty can also be louder, more layered and experimental--it's a beautiful ode to the city that inspired the record.
Recorded in New Orleans with the help of Big Easy luminaries like Robert Walter of Greyboy Allstars, George Porter Jr. of the Meters and Al Johnson, Mo Beauty is a welcome step in a mature new direction for Ounsworth. Catch him belting out "Holy, holy Moses" and a slew of other tunes at Neurolux on Thursday, Feb. 18. Tickets are $8 in advance at Record Exchange or Ticketweb or $10 at the door.