By Nick Moorhead
William Dodge Moody, who just goes by Billy Dodge, is a standout singer-songwriter playing at Somerville favorite Johnny D’s on Feb. 15. While Bon Iver is the obvious comparison to Billy’s rustic soulfulness, Billy’s sound is equally informed the melodic thrashing of Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, as it is the politically-charged folk of Bob Dylan.
Dodge started out playing consistent gigs at the Milkboy Coffee House in Villanova. He played around D.C. after that, then New York City, where he recorded the yearning track Avignon in Brooklyn. In recent years, Dodge has played at all the top Somerville and Cambridge venues such as TT The Bears, the Middle East, Precinct, and now Johnny D’s.
Truth is a recurring topic in regards to Billy Dodge, because he’s a truly honest person. Dodge’s lyrics are true, as well. Listening to Control is like a refreshing breeze sweeping through the soul. “Don’t let me, let me fall,” Dodge sings. “I can feel my hands slowly lose control.” Dodge wrote it in between studying about Sudan while majoring in political science at Villanova.
Dodge admits he’s reticent to discuss his lyrics, citing Kurt Cobain’s classic dismissal, “I don’t think about anything when I’m writing my lyrics.” Despite this apparent lack of attention to lyrics, Dodge’s words shine, such as when he sings, “And I will never go down that path again. Out on the river we bury our souls” from Rope Swing.
Dodge ‘s most recent EP, Elephant, deals with nostalgia – “lamenting the past” – focused on summers spent growing up in Massachusetts. It’s family oriented. The track Illusory, in particular, is about the presence of ghosts in places Dodge used to play as a kid. He likes to “revisit those places (of youth), learn something, and know you have to move on.”
Aside from a debut album to be recorded starting in March, he doesn’t want to get satisfied. “No complacency. I always want the potential of something better to exist, I don’t want to get lazy, I don’t want to be so satisfied that I let the music slip,” he says.
Come out and see Billy Dodge serenade you with his beautiful folk music at Johnny D’s on February 15. He promises to keep his eyes open as he’s singing, most of the time. Eleanor and The Tasties open the show.