Jason Moon’s latest release is in many ways a homecoming.
In a geographical sense, there’s a lot of Wisconsin in the album for a singer-songwriter who now hangs his hat in Arizona. In the spiritual sense, it’s the story of a journey home and a celebration of arrival — that is, if you define “home” as a place of acceptance and stability.
“The Wolf I Fed,” Moon’s fifth album, was released on Friday and it’s his first solo album in nearly six years.
Track by track, Moon explores his life’s path from youthful ignorance through turmoil, through self discovery and arrival at joy and love.
It’s an album meant to be taken as a whole rather than as a collection of separate, individual pieces.
The songs are chapters in the greater story.
The title is taken from Native American story of the two wolves living inside each of us fighting for control. One good and one bad, the wolf that eventually wins is the one that we feed.
“I wanted to reflect on my growth, and how I got from there to here,” Moon said. “I wanted to reflect honestly on the mistakes I have made and the lessons I have learned from them.”
Though he goes by musician or songwriter, Moon could just as well wear storyteller as a title.
The melodies catch the listener, but so do the lyrics.
The album explores his life and lessons in chronological fashion.
“It’s designed to flow, like vignettes that form a stream of consciousness going from lost to found,” he said.
Moon is probably best known in the Fox Valley music scene for his long-time open mic nights throughout the region. He’s built some tremendous musical relationships and they provided some real strength to the project.
Award winning Madison songwriters Kyle Rightly and the late Snuffy Smith co-wrote songs for the album.
The album was recorded at the Grammy-nominated Surround In Sound studio in Wauwatosa. Studio engineer Jonathon Leubner pulled double duty and played bass on the recording. John and Susan Nicholson of Frogwater as well as Tom Haines fill out the backing band. David Miller of Milwaukee provided the harmonica.
The Fox Valley is well represented.
WAPL’s Len Nelson added his accordion to the work. Thacia Northey provided vocals and ukulele. Guest artists also included Rick Maki on vibraphone, Mike “Geppy” Gephart on bass and Robin Cardell and Oshkosh Rhythm Institute on hand drums.
Moon also pulled from the next generation of musicians, with his 6-year-old daughter Penny June Moon as well as Opal and Flynn Nicholson earning their first official vocal recording credits.
Though “The Wolf I Fed” is Moon’s his first personal, recorded endeavor in some time, his activity had anything but slowed.
He’s founder of Warrior Songs, a nonprofit that aims to provide healing for veterans through music and the arts.
Moon recently produced “Women at War: Warrior Songs Vol. 2,” which won the 2019 Wisconsin Area Music Industry’s 2019 Album of the Year. Work is under way for Warrior Songs Volume 3, which will feature veterans of Vietnam.
“The Wolf I Fed” is available anywhere digital music can be purchased. Physical copies as well as a digital download with bonus material are available at jasonmoon.org.
Look to catch Moon playing live this summer.
He’s planning a tour of the Midwest in July.