Josh Moore
with Jenks Miller & Rose Cross NC
Friday, June 12, 9 p.m., $8
Cat’s Cradle Back Room, 300 E. Main St.
Carrboro, 919-967-9053, www.catscradle.com

Josh Moore did not need a record deal, at least not in 2008.

For five years, he’d been the lead singer of Beloved, a Christian hardcore band he’d joined at the age of 16. He met the other members in the hometown church he attended with his parents, Kernersville’s First Christian. They toured and enjoyed moderate success before splitting up shortly after Moore’s 21st birthday.

He began writing his own songsthe acoustic laments of a solo singer-songwriteralmost immediately after the band ended in January 2005. It was a relief, he says, to write numbers that he felt like he “didn’t have to crank.”

Others agreed, including a small label that expressed interest in issuing those songs in 2008. But Moore declined. Not only was he uninterested in being bound to some long-term contract, but he reckoned, at the age of 24, he still had some living and thinking to do before making his official debut.

“I knew I had to give myself time,” he says. “I knew I needed to learn more and to experience more and to process more before I was able to offer something under my name.”

The new Parted Ways, Moore’s nine-track debut, is that something: The end result of Moore’s decade of living and learning since Beloved’s demise, it exists in the fertile space where rock, folk, Americana and even a little bit of gospel mix, putting him in the company of recent locals such as Hiss Golden Messenger and Phil Cook. Moore’s beautiful voice is smooth and strong, like a stone plucked from the bottom of a river. It anchors everything around it.

“The singing voice,” he explains, “is the instrument for the soul.”

The voice on Parted Ways is beautiful but fragile, the sound of someone who has lived just enough to have something to sing about without self-destructing. For several years, Moore flirted with crossing that border, slipping into alcoholism that stalled his productivity and ostracized him from some circles of his preferred collaborators.

But as he offers above weeping and winking saxophone and organ during Parted Ways opener “Mercy of the Rain,” every new start requires a bitter end. Just as daylight breaks from the dark, Moore has pushed past his own dim period.

“Oh, true believers, all is not lost/ If we’ll return the burdens we’ve carried,” he sings, his voice wedged somewhere between sweetness and sadness. “Laying them down, gonna leave them behind.”