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Lane Moore found direction in a fateful, tear-filled bus ride in her then-home of L.A., and it was all thanks to Stevie Nicks.
“This is insane, but she used to talk to me in my head after that happened,” says Moore, recalling the impact left over from a show of the witchy superstar’s. “I fully believe this is real. No joke. She told me to move to New York.” Five years ago, when her imaginary conversations with Stevie took place, California was no longer cutting it for Moore. She heeded the sagacious advice, packed up, and headed east. “When Stevie Nicks tells you to do something, you do it.”
Since arriving in New York, Moore has solidified herself wholly in the writerly and comedic realm, as an editor for Cosmopolitan.com’s sex and romance vertical and leading the widely acclaimed comedy show “Tinder Live.” Now she’s starting to get a solid footing in a third frontier: shredding electric uke and waxing sentimental in her garage-pop quartet, It Was Romance. With that, she’d like to make one thing clear, especially regarding her stringed instrument of choice and its typical association. “I’m not playing adorably,” she says. “I’m playing with distortion.”
Moore’s in the throes of planning a particularly busy May, starting with her band’s debut performance slot at Night of a Thousand Stevies on May 1, an event with an application process so intense she likened it to “applying to a fucking Stevie Nicks college.” Immediately after, It Was Romance will put out a self-titled full-length, their very first. The ebullient, narrative-driven single “Philadelphia” plows the album wide open. It chases a shimmering promise. It’s mysterious but undeniably attractive. It evokes feelings of loneliness with a danceable beat, not unlike a somber nighttime walk home on wet roads, with colorful, joyous city lights reflecting like a black mirror.
“Philadelphia,” Moore explains, falls in line with her overall mission with music: happy songs for sad people. “It’s a really happy song, but it was written at a really, really sad point in my life where I wanted to be with this person and it just wasn’t coming together,” she says. Much of the album meditates on this specific relationship, although that much isn’t obvious during cursory or casual listens. The glittering instrumental aspect and Moore’s velvety vocal delivery make the rest of It Was Romance saunter around like the life of the party, occasionally winking just to make sure you’re hooked.
Of course, though, there are moments of tenderness, primarily with the gently gliding “But Not Forgotten.” That track mourns the sudden rug-tugging of crappy luck. “It’s never been a case of I love you/Baby, I love you, too/But you’re busy/And I am busy, too.” The way Moore’s voice puffs out that last gasp evokes a snuffed candle. “Every time I sing that song, it’s hard for me not to cry,” she says. Something lost, but, well, not forgotten. Wax still splatters from the quick extinguishing.
Moore says making music affords her an opportunity her other art channels won’t or can’t. “With comedy and writing, I’m able to use that part of me that’s all, ‘Ugh, dating sucks. It’s the worst. Who cares?’ ” she says. “I can make jokes that are really cynical. But then with music, I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. It’s been said a million times, but most cynics are disappointed romantics. A lot of the songs I write are about being disappointed and modern relationships, because I have expected all of these John Hughes romantic moments. The reality is so lazy and crass and boring and stupid a lot of the time. Nothing is what I keep believing in my heart that it will be.”
With It Was Romance, Moore indulges in the theatrics, dressing herself in wild false eyelashes or homemade feathered wings. “I can be whoever I want,” she says. “I don’t have to be cool and like I don’t give a shit when I’m playing music. When I’m playing music, I couldn’t care more. I’m pouring every emotion I have into it.”
It Was Romance play Night of a Thousand Stevies May 1 at Irving Plaza, and the Knitting Factory May 22 at 8 p.m. with Marlowe Grey.
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