Different Moon “The Underdog” (SINGLE)

Different Moon’s “The Underdog” is the latest single from North Carolina-based Jim Piper’s personal project now nearly ten years down the line from its first release. Piper may be working on the margins of the independent music scene, but it isn’t because he lacks talent. Different Moon’s blend of pop, rock, and alternative songwriting has garnered a host of nominations from respected organizations and publications such as SongwriterUniverse magazine, the ISC International Songwriting Competition, the American Songwriting Awards, and the UK International Songwriting Contest. It’s a fitting ongoing tribute to the partnership that birthed the project between Piper and high school friend/keyboard player and songwriter partner Mike Smith who passed away in the mid-aughts at the premature age of 37. Piper has carried on, however, and “The Underdog” attests to the wisdom behind that decision.

It’s wisdom you can hear in many areas of the song. One place where it stands out is in the song’s construction. “The Underdog” has a varied texture that unfolds in mini-movements beginning with the unexpected stuttering tempo that opens the first verse. The arrangement’s transitions are adroitly handled from one passage to the next despite the relative incongruity of the whole – you wouldn’t expect the opening verse to lead into the pre-chorus and chorus that eventually arrive, but they flow seamlessly together. The track has a bright and lively sound as well that connects with listeners from the outset.

Piper’s voice is ideal for the material and connects with listeners. He has a welcoming tone well suited to the song’s anthemic predilections without it ever striking a cheap note. Many listeners will be drawn to his emotional range most of all. He does not have a Pavarotti-style voice, there’s nothing operatic about his singing, but he tackles the song with such earnestness that you never doubt the depths of his commitment. His phrasing never runs through the song’s repetitions the same way twice, and such vocal diversity adds another layer of excellence to an already outstanding performance.

There is the same focus in the lyrics as in the music. It is a necessary distinction to make that Piper isn’t writing about losers, per se, as much as he is writing about the underrated and overlooked. It is likely an easy place for him to write from as an extravagantly talented indie musician who, despite his fair share of accolades, hasn’t received his just due in an otherwise imperfect world. There are no laborious attempts at high-flown poetry; the diction remains conversational throughout, and that encourages connection with the audience.

It is that connection with the audience that makes this such a memorable tune. He’s writing for himself, of course, but “The Underdog” looks to relate with its target listeners as well. It will exert tremendous appeal for those who feel short-changed and undervalued in whatever role we occupy. Different Moon has scored memorably with this new single, and long may Piper continue to embody the dream he shared with his friend so long ago.

Mark Druery