Quiet Loner Records
Modern British Folk Songs With an Expressive and Melodious Americana Undercurrent.
Aha! The Artist Formerly Known as Quiet Loner is back and (*Spoiler Alert) better than ever.
Matt Hill; for it is he is nothing more than a Folk Singer; and I don’t say that lightly. In whatever guise he takes, Matt’s songs are deeply rooted very firmly in the style of music we associate with Woody Guthrie, Tom Paxton and our very own Richard Thompson; imaginative, articulate and always fascinating stories with a historical basis that are destined to educate and entertain in equal measure.
When you read the lyrics to opening track Stone & Bone it feels like the poetry of Hardy or Larkin; but add a jaunty tune that includes a banjo, electrical guitars, a musical saw and a throbbing bass and you get a fabulous Folk Rock song about the ‘dead’ rising from the graveyard that the Square Mile Financial District in London is built on, rising and taking control!
Obviously I’m not doing it justice …… but it’s a fabulous start to a fabulous album.
One of my own ‘adages’ is ‘ don’t dismiss them; because all old people have stories to tell;’ and Matt proves that with his delightfully dark Save Your Pity; sung in the first person of a man on his death bed telling those around him to ‘Save Your Pity’ as he’s had quite the life, and a life most would never have guessed from looking at his wracked body.
When you get to know Matt you quickly find he’s quite the historian; and as I said earlier; in the mould of Woody and Paxton can put whole swathes of history into a lovely three minute song; and that’s exactly what he does with Billy’s Prayer; a tale of a young man from Salford (Manchester) who left his home in 1890 to make a new life across the Atlantic where he became the legendary boxer Battling Billy Marchant, who went on to become a hero in WWI too.
Preceding this is The Exile of DH Lawrence which details the last few years of one of England’s finest story tellers; who had been banished from his home country and left to die in Taos, New Mexico; and Hill captures the tale quite magnificently; especially the judicious use of feedback-guitar in the background.
Sometimes Matt Hill can’t stop himself; and actually introduces the song Four Corners himself; and in fairness this lifts a song about minutiae in a village in the writer’s family home of Nottingham; into a Classic Folk Song set to a parlour Jazz beat that will stick in the mind for days afterwards.
Boxing and history rear their head again in Bendigo; and Hill again, manages to unearth detail and diamonds from a life long forgotten; but sounds like it could easily be made into an actual film!
As I keep saying, Matt Hill is first and foremost a Storyteller and even when he writes a Love Song it’s always going to be complicated and personal; and that’s exactly what you get with the mystical If Love Should Rise and to some extent; Roll Me Out (In The Middle of The Night); which closes the album; too ……. no matter how bad you think life is; there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
This is a really special album in many ways; with each individual song being well worthy of praise but two songs stand above all others. Gary Gilmore’s Last Request should really be my Favourite Song here, as it taught me something about this ‘two bit’ killer’s story that I didn’t know; but more importantly it told me how special Johnny Cash really was; by actually answering the request to be Gilmore’s last phone call. Trust me; this is what Folk Music is really about.
My actual Favourite Song is Chains; and when I first heard it earlier this year it passed me by; but as 2020 had progressed it has taken on a life of it’s own as it’s very subtle and modern song about Slavery, past, present and future. Where it written or recorded today I’m sure it would have sounded a lot angrier; but it wasn’t and is even stronger the way Matt Hill’s distinctively warm voice sounds so sad; and when the haunting choir drift in and out for the first time; tears will come to your eyes.
There is a depth to Matt Hill’s storytelling and songwriting; Folk with an Americana undercurrent, that seems out of step with most everything else I hear in the idiom these days and I can’t recommend this album highly enough.
Released 6th July 2020