Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson CHUG IT DOWN AND GO.

david and mark a

Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson
CHUG IT DOWN AND GO.
Blind Chihuahua Records

A Little Taste of What Makes Americana Great.

In all honesty this album has been a bit of a challenge for me; not that I didn’t like it from the get go; but simply because there’s just so much going on it’s been damn difficult to get a handle on what to file it under!
Many moons ago I reviewed a Mark Robinson  *album for a prestigious UK magazine and I once saw Daniel Seymour play bass alongside David Olney; and it appears that the dynamic duo have either supplied songs for or produced albums by many of RMHQ’s favourite Alt. Country acts over the years; but none of that prepared me for ‘this’ mish-mash of Rootsy Americana.
The rambunctious and stomping title track Chug It Down and Go opens the album in the finest of fashions, with Robinson on Resonator, Seymour slapping the living daylights out of an upright bass and Mr David Olney supplying sublime harmonica….what’s not to like.
This followed by the Cajun flavoured and accordion driven One Eyed Blue which will bring even a wooden leg back to life; as will the delightful guitar rag that is 19th Street Ramble and the charming Dixie Waltz which closes the album; and is every inch as delightful as the song’s title would suggest.
In between though there’s the world weary Slow Moving Train which sounds like either an out-take from the Band’s debut album, or something Levon Helm may have recorded many years later; yet Gypsy Moon and First Fool both take us back to the crooning Country we associate with the 20’s and 30’s but Take On Me Down The Road somehow manages to incorporate Jug Band Music and the type of Field Workers Blues that John Hammond Sr first discovered and all those white English boys turned into Rock & Roll in the late 1960’s!
With that last description in mind I’m pointing you to Bare Foot Gal featuring young David Olney again on a root’n and toot’n harmonica while the other two strum a banjo and blow a kazoo for extra authenticity.
Just like the rest of the album; it will leave you with a warm smile on your face.
As a stand alone album this isn’t always a cohesive listen; but I’m sure that if you were to see Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson in a downtown bar or more likely at a Folk Festival somewhere you would find yourself desperate for something to take home; and in that setting this collection of songs will make complete sense.

Released November 9th 2018
http://markrobinsonguitar.com/chug_it_down_and_go

*PS….. Sue from the PR Company has just sent me a copy of that original review from 2010!

Mark Robinson MaverickReviewNov2010

 

Advertisements

Joe Matera WAITING FOR THE SUN

joe matera zz

Joe Matera
WAITING FOR THE SUN
Mercury Fire

Aussie Rocker Goes Acoustic, Thoughtful and Very Very Articulate.

It’s no surprise that I’d never heard of Australian Joe Matera before, as he is something of a ‘Rocker Dude’ releasing many albums under his own name; and being a ‘guitar hire’ too, for plenty of household names touring Europe and The Empire.
But, this tattooed and bandanna wearing electric guitarist has now discovered his more sensitive side and written and recorded this EP of acoustic songs in the classic singer-songwriter style.
Simply because the title of the opening track will confuse the Hell out of his existing Rocky fan base, I very nearly made All Night Long my Favourite Song even before I’d heard it.
Now I’m well versed in all six songs I’m not too sure that the gentle ode to his Troubadour lifestyle couldn’t still win that most coveted of accolades.
Like everything else here, it’s well constructed and considered in the way Joe tells the story in a tender voice that belies his time on the Rock and Roll circuit.
I think it was the third time I played it that the subject matter of Inside Looking Out hit me like a brick. Perhaps it’s the smooth delivery; but Matera’s harrowing tale of the mass migrations that are blighting not just Southern Europe but North America too will ring your emotions dry too.
He drops in a similar twist with his bittersweet observations in the break-up song Movin’ On; which is a really angry song sung in a wistful and reflective manner; and could easily be covered straight up by any number of female singers.
The biggest surprise for me is how Matera’s songs have made me overlook his outstanding fretwork throughout; but now I think about it he has the eclectic style of John Renbourn and the authority of Richard Thompson in the way he underscores Take a Look and the title track Waiting For The Sun, which is another song with more twists than a roller-coaster and closes the EP with as many questions as it has answers.
Then of course there is the actual RMHQ Favourite Track; and a choice that will make regular readers smile; as instead of being contrary as usual I’m going for the actual radio single Semantics. But then again, Matera is being contrary releasing a very wordy, erudite and intelligent song as a single. For readers of a ‘certain age’ think Sting or Lloyd Cole or; and one of the world most under rated songwriters Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout fame and you will understand where this song; and probably the other five too are coming from.
As I’ve alluded to, these songs could easily fall into being ‘background music’ if you’re not careful, but when you listen to the words; there is nearly always a sharp sting in the tail that is well worth seeking out.

Released 21st September 2018
https://www.joematera.com/home

Stephen Fearing THE SECRET OF CLIMBING

Stephen Fearing g

Stephen Fearing
THE SECRET OF CLIMBING
Self-Release

Warm and Intimate Back To Basics Songs From Canadian Legend.

While I had two albums by Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, I wasn’t aware of their status in Canadian or especially North American popular culture until three years ago; and even then the constituent parts were still a mystery to me.
HA!!! Since then I have become something of a convert and evangelist for their cause; perhaps none more so than Stephen Fearing whose EVERY SOUL’S A SAILOR was a huge hit on the website in 2017 and still receives more ‘reads’ than I could ever expect; plus I still keep it in the car for ‘emergencies’ when I need to hear something to soothe my tortured soul.
Which all brings us to Fearing’s 11th solo release; and possibly his most fascinating?
Before I discuss the actual music and songs I have to tell you about the background to the recording, as it’s intricate to the overall story.
As a lifelong advocate of ‘authentic music’ and a man who has been ‘chasing his musical sweet spot’ forever, for THE SECRET OF CLIMBING Stephen has collaborated with Roy Gandy from Hi-Fi specialists Rega Research and legendary Mastering Engineer Ray Staff to create music that was originally destined for a Vinyl Only release which the trio feel is the ‘one true format’ to recreate the sound that the artiste hears inside his head.
Recorded over just two days in a tiny; but pitch perfect English studio with just Fearing, his Manzer acoustic guitar and 7 songs from his past and one outstanding cover version this beautifully intimate collection starts with a pin sharp rendition of Johnny’s Lament in which you can hear every single note and breath he takes as our Canadian troubadour pours his heart out like a dying man begging for forgiveness on his death bed.
A similar sense of melancholy and heartache weave’s through all eight songs here; none more so than Just In Time To Say Goodbye which follows. A song I’m not familiar with; so I can’t ‘compare and contrast’ but why would I want to when this version grabbed my senses and virtually squeezed the life out of them until I was a quivering mess.
Liking music has, and always will be subjective, which is why I’m always left despairing to hear songwriting and the majestic way Stephen delivers his words and melodies on The Things We Did and When My Baby Calls My Name and remember this guy isn’t lauded around the world in even 10% of the manner that Ed Sheeran is!
With that in mind; you have to remember that there are no overdubs, gadgetry or general ‘studio trickery’ involved in this recording, the magic here is just one mans, a guitar and a bunch of well-crafted songs.
Simples.
The single cover version here is the Tom Waits Time; and Fearing somehow manages to bring out a new ragged beauty from Wait’s poetic words with some Spartan guitar playing and his own velvety world weary voice.
With only 8 songs here selecting a Favourite is nigh on impossible. Obviously the title track from the 217 album Every Soul’s A Sailor was already an RMHQ favourite; but stripped back to the scorched bone it twice had me sitting stock still and desperately trying not to breathe too loudly in case I missed a note or nuance; but then again the microscopic observations in Red Lights In The Rain and the sprightly The Things We Did both could and should scoop the accolade with ease on most albums; but I’m going for the breath-taking Long Walk To Freedom which made me go “Bloody Hell! That’s a Blackie and the Rodeo Kings song” the third time I played it; such is the difference in styles.
The delicious irony here is that while so much work has gone into making this recording specifically for 180 gram Vinyl with artwork designed specifically for a gatefold sleeve; I’ve been listening to a download on my laptop via two £25 speakers; and the results still knock the socks off most other recordings I’ve heard this year.
AHA…. The Dynamic Trio realised this would be the case; and while every step of recording and production was designed for vinyl, so according to Fearing “the album is being released into a mobile-driven world. So to accommodate these seemingly competing realities Audio Engineer David Travers-Smith (co-producer of Every Soul’s a Sailor) developed a digital download for The Secret of Climbing so that the files were lifted directly from the album’s test pressing and would preserve the detail and warmth of analogue as faithfully as possible.”
Even the Vinyl pressing was sent to a much researched and specialist plant in Germany……. so I hope you appreciate everything that has gone into this very special record!

Released September 16th 2018
http://stephenfearing.ca/product/physical-the-secret-of-climbing-vinyl/

Bert Jansch `Just A Simple Soul (Best of Collection)

bert jansch 23

Bert Jansch
`Just A Simple Soul’ (Best of Collection)
BMG (Double CD & 2 LP Vinyl )

The Flame Burns as Bright As Ever For One of British Folk Music’s True Legends. 

Many years ago while I was a student I whiled away my spare time at Durham Folk Club listening to The Spinners and The Seekers while The Rocking Magpie was in a Youth Club surrounded by teenage girls, dancing to Ska and Motown …he always was the cool one!
Which is why, nearly 50 years later he has asked me to listen to and pen some thoughtful words on this latest offering from one of Britain’s finest ever Folk Musicians ….Mr Bert Jansch.
There was a time in the 1960’s, before “Clapton Is God” was scrawled in four feet high letters on a wall, that there were other “gods” in the music world. A time before “Rock” music was even a ‘thing’ and The Beatles and Stones were still Pop Groups and before a young whippersnapper in a funny hat called Bobby Dylan was starting to make a noise in America.

For a  period in those early sixties there were 100’s of Folk Clubs  scattered all over the UK in little rooms above pubs..or in pubs, above cafes or in cafes playing a heady mix of traditional songs, American blues, work songs, miners songs and everything else in between to groups of young people with long hair and invariably wearing duffle coats and smoking cigarettes while listening intently and reverentially to whoever was on stage.

As the 1960’s progressed word started coming out of these London folk clubs about a variety of homegrown singer-songwriters and Folk groups that were writing their own songs…and they were good; very, very good!

One of these was a handsome young Scotsman called Bert Jansch who moved South in 1963 to ply his trade as another  hungry folk singer in London.

Jansch soon recorded his first album and sold the tapes for £100 to Transatlantic records who released it in 1965. The Self-Titled Bert Jansch contained several songs that are still classics today in 2018, including “Needle Of Death” about the loss of a close friend and the more traditional “Blackwaterside” (which a certain Jimmy Page re-worked for the first Zeppelin album 3 years later!). But it was an instrumental “Angie” written by Davy Graham ( a brilliant instrumentalist and songwriter in his own right) that showed off Jansch’s prowess with an acoustic guitar.
Through the late 60’s and early 70’s Bert Jansch was the ‘go to’ name in British Folk Music, releasing a number of sought after albums including the excellent Jack Orion and the iconic LA Turnaround.  Over his career Jansch released over 20 albums, plus a myriad of live releases and compilations of varying ‘legitimacy’. Unfortunately Bert’s legacy is scattered over many record labels many of which are no longer around.
Which is where this magnificent collection stands out. Just A Simple Soul pulls everything into one place; not only his classic early songs, wonderfully re-mastered, but also includes ‘Reynardine’ from his time with Pentangle ( Oh yes – he also played in one of the most loved Folk Groups of the 70’s that at regularly competed with Fairport Convention for many a best Folk award) but that’s a book in itself!  This collection also realises that Bert continued to perform and record until 2006, with his later albums well represented, especially worth listening to are‘Crimson Moon’ from 2000 and ‘On The Edge Of A Dream’from the 2002 album of the same name, as well as the poignant “High Days” from his last album Black Swan.

I don’t know if this collection covering Bert’s 5 Decades of music, lovingly compiled by Bernard Butler in conjunction with the Bert Jansch Estate, will attract many new fans – because it should as it’s an actual Masterclass in songwriting and stunningly brilliant fret work all allied to Bert’s fragile and gentle vocals.  But for those already “in the know” this collection cleverly pulls together some of his greatest songs alongside many rarer but still important parts of the legacy into one place.
The sound quality of my digital download used for this review appears excellent especially on the early songs, and the Vinyl release will be an opportunity for those in love with that particular format to finally renew some of those pretty worn out original LP’s

Highly Recommended.
Released October 26th 2016

Review – John Jobling aka http://www.joblingphotography.com/

John Andrews JOHNNY WAS E.P

johnny andrews

John Andrews
JOHNNY WAS
Self-Release

Windswept and Interesting Tales From A Troubled Heart.

I’m beginning to wonder if there is anyone left in Northern Ireland who isn’t actually a working musician?
As you will know I have a soft spot for this beautiful part of the United Kingdom and the people in it and over the last seven or so years I don’t think I’ve heard a recording from it’s inhabitants that I haven’t liked……and that even includes a couple of ‘finger in the ear’ folk albums.
Here we have John Andrews and the not so rushed follow up to his 2014 debut release.
With so much new music to listen to I have to judge albums by the first track; and WHAM!!! did Pray capture my attention from the get go.
The first minute or so is taken up with a fire and brimstone preacher bellowing that we are all going to Hell! Then Andrews comes into the action with a punchy Rockabilly lick that follows in a similar; if a lot less angry path…..and the result is a doozy, especially as our Preacher keeps butting in and out.
The next song, Don’t Let Me Fade Away slows things down a heck of a lot with Andrews singing and playing an acoustic in the finest singer-songwriter tradition. as some soft drumming and intricate cymbal playing add to the tension of a deep and meaningful tale of lost love.
Even with only five songs to judge him by on this EP; it’s quite easy to hear what a clever and thoughtful songwriter Andrew is; with the nod to Alt. Country Wolves and his own Love Sick Blues not just showcasing his narrative skills; but also his wonderfully warm and expressive vocals too.
Then there is the stand out track Love Letter which is easily my Favourite Song here. As is often the case with artists from this tiny corner of Ireland, Andrews is obliged by a lifetime playing pubs and clubs to play every genre of music known to man in his quest to make a living; and this charming, yet quite dark tale blends modern folk with a touch of Alt. Country, a snippet of latter day Indie with a big dollop of West Coast swagger too, and the result sounds not a million miles away from one of my favourite Celtic bands of all time, the Waterboys and that is a very good thing indeed.
I doubt John Andrews will ever headline Glastonbury or Lollapalooza but that’s not always the point, is it? He has talent in abundance and ticks a lot of boxes on these five songs and deserves a much wider audience than he is currently getting in his home country.
Try it…..and buy it; you won’t regret it.

Released August 3rd 2018
https://www.facebook.com/JohnnywasNI/

Hadley McCall Thackston Self-Titled (Album)

hadley mccall thackston

Hadley McCall Thackston
Self-Titled
Wolfe Island Records

Captivating Country Folk Songs For a Fine Summer’s Evening.

Like many self-appointed arbiters of good taste; or music reviewers (you decide) it’s not uncommon for a review to followed by numerous e-mails stating “If you like that; you will like us…..can I send a copy of our latest release?”
Me being the musical tart that I am I rarely say “no”; so when this was offered after our latest Jeremy Nail missive I was intrigued; as he’s not an obvious act to compare yourself too; and songstress Hadley McCall Thackston from Decatur, Georgia sounds nowt like him at all; yet I think I’d love to see the pair performing together one evening.
“Pray tell, Why is that”? You ask.
The fragile opening song Butterfly strangely enough made me think of those early Nanci Griffith LP’s I still cherish. There is something delightfully innocent in the way Hadley recounts an almost poetic tale over a winsome fiddle, mandolin and acoustic guitar.
I was instantly hooked.
Then Ms Thackston cranks up the volume to Four on the snappy Ellipsis which follows; and even during that magical first play last week I was ensnared in the silken web this young lady weaves with her stories.
The accompanying Press Release describes her music as Porch to Porch music; and I can see why as the imagery this talented young woman conjures up combines the smells and sounds of not just Georgia but South Carolina where she now lives too; in the way you feel the evening heat on your shoulders as the sun comes down as family sit around sipping cool drinks in the delightful Change and later on Ghost, as well as plenty of others.
Don’t be deceived though; this isn’t a ‘simple album’ at all; the production may make the songs sound that way; but there’s a whole lot of majestic playing behind Hadley as she delivers the haunting Redbird and Devil Or Angel, which has to heard to be believed. Trust me!
It appears that Hadley is a very shy person by nature; and was originally cajoled into putting one of her songs onto Facebook; so it would be a huge disappointment if I was never to witness her singing the gorgeous Last Mountain Waltz or especially Somehow played live in an intimate setting.
Choosing a ‘Favourite’ here is as hard as ever with the ‘bonus track’ Slow Burn certainly being a contender but I’m going for the fiery Wallace’s Song (Sage Bush) which has a delightful danceable beat to it and some fascinating lyrics on a quirky love song.
There’s a whole lot to like here from a 25 year old on her debut album; as she’s a fine storyteller with a pearlescent yet slightly worn around the edges voice……again; not unlike a young Nanci Griffith; but I can easily see her appealing to the hipsters who love Fleet Foxes, First Aid Kit and even Ed Sheeran; as well as our friend Jeremy Nail of course.

Released 15th June 2018
https://www.facebook.com/hadley.thackston

 

Holly Rees SLOW DOWN E.P

holly

Holly Rees
SLOW DOWN E.P
Self-Release

Four Exhilarating, Gritty and Honest Songs From Young Durham Lass.

I actually missed the push on Holly Rees’ single Magpie because we were gallivanting in NYC and it’s actually haunted me ever since; mostly because she’s a local lass from the Durham Dales; but also because it’s a cracking slice of simple yet very articulate Folk that Rocks!
Thankfully I can right that wrong today as it’s the opening track on her new EP. For a simple Acoustic song, producer Matt Dunbar and this delightful young lady certainly create a ‘big noise’ and a noise that deserves to be heard btw.
Sometimes it’s not easy to differentiate between Folk Music and what I prefer to refer as ‘Singer-Songwriters’; and I tend to favour the latter so that’s how I will describe Holly’s approach to her songwriting and singing; it has one foot in the past with Impossible Rules which sounds a bit like singers such as Judie Tzuke or Joan Armatrading who I would see on OGWT and then rush out and buy their latest LPs from Woolworths on Saturday afternoon in the 1970’s; but the sparkling Missing Out will most certainly appeal to fans of Heidi Talbot and Elie Goulding and the current glut of gritty and feisty young women who are headlining on stages at Festivals and Universities across the length and breadth of the UK.
With only four songs to choose from and each with it’s own golden merits; selecting a Favourite Song hasn’t been easy; but with a deep breath and my fingers crossed I’m going for track #2 In My Arms; a darkly beautiful, deeply personal bittersweet love song that felt like a punch to the heart when I first heard it.
Who knows what the future holds for Holly Rees; with a little bit of luck and a couple of plays on Radio 6, she most certainly has the voice and songs to move up the ladder of success with ease; and she most certainly deserves it.

Released August 10th 2018
https://www.facebook.com/hollysounds

 

Jason McNiff JOY & INDEPENDENCE

jason mcniff 1

Jason McNiff
JOY & INDEPENDENCE
At The Helm Records

A Starkly Beautiful Collection of Stories From English Songwriting Troubadour.

In my less lucid moments I think I pretty much have my finger on the pulse of British Acoustic and Americana style music; and then along comes singer-songwriter and all around troubadour Jason McNiff who has released 5 previous albums including a best selling double retrospective; and I’ve never heard of him.
Shame on me.
This ‘stripped back’ album; and all there ever is is McNiff’s breathy vocals, expertly strummed guitar occasional harmonica with no show-boating to divert your attention from his stunning and articulate songs.
The first thing you hear is the title track Joy and Independence, which uses those words as the Christian names of the young couple in the bittersweet story of carefree love across one glorious year long adventure; 25 years ago.
Is there a happy ending? You didn’t think I would tell you; did you?
Now I’ve played this album 6 or 7 times, I’m truly impressed by McNiff’s storytelling and way with words and imagery which conjures up memories of the first time I heard the likes of Townes, Guy and more importantly Tom Paxton all those years ago.
While McNiff’s presentation style is quite laid back; just like his fore-bearers your ears will keep pricking up as stories unfold; with Dream Of a Highway and Wind of Zaragoza both sounding like any of those three songwriters would have been proud to have been written by them.
With Ed Sheeran filling stadiums across the world, I hope that the current wind of change in Folk Music means that songs like the darkly beautiful Italy and the song for songwriters everywhere, And The Sun Comes Up On My Dreams can find the far reaching audience that they deserve; but the cream always rises to the to anyway, doesn’t it?
When it comes to choosing a ‘Favourite Track’ for you, I’m actually spoilt for choice with the spoken intro to the delightful Midnight Shift initially catching my ear, then the re-working of Stuck In The Past proves to be another wonderful example of a songwriter writing from personal experience; but I’m going for a left of centre choice again with Amanda.
It’s an odd and very brave subject for someone to write about; but this tragic tale of Amanda Knox is the type of song my heroes in the 60’s made careers from; and it’s fair to say Jason McNiff treads very cautiously over the broken glass but comes out with a dramatic yet sad song that will make you ‘think,’ smile and possibly even shed a tear as it slowly unfolds and unwinds.
Tucked away in the middle is Thoughts; a delightful duet with Lily Ramona and it may be the one commercial song here that just might find its way onto radio and therefore draw attention to the rest of this starkly beautiful album.

Released July 27th 2018
http://www.jasonmcniff.com

 

Tom Blackwell MEMPHIS Vol 1.

tom blackwell ac

Tom Blackwell
MEMPHIS Vol 1.
Bandcamp/Cassette

Simple, Sensational and Timeless Folk Songs From a Northern Poet-Singer

While Tom Blackwell is a friend of a friend of mine I’d not heard of him prior to last weekend’s SummerTyne Festival; and even then I managed to miss his groundbreaking set on Saturday afternoon!
When I met up with him later in the day after spotting him watching; and visibly enjoying several other acts during the afternoon (which is a rarity for musicians in my opinion) there was a delightful innocence in the way he handled a couple of newly adoring fans which appealed to me. When we chatted I also loved his approach to music and recording; although releasing this album as a cassette rather than one of those new fangled Compact Discs means his new found fans may not get the access to his work that he deserves. (*thankfully he is now releasing it as a download.)
Any-hoot; onto the music itself.
As I’d hoped and expected opening track The Blood Runs Cold On The Ground, finds Tom with just an acoustic guitar, harmonica and a crystal clear production to accompany his deeply thoughtful and mesmeric words; and I can now vouch for why that couple would make the effort to speak adoringly to the young singer-songwriter; after hearing only one single song.
Yet there’s actually another nine songs to get through and each is as striking in its own rite as that first one.
What I’ve come to love about this album is not just Blackwell’s warm and raspy voice, but the ‘easy on the ear’ intensity he provides on songs like Hark Back The Hounds, The Hollow Trophy and the staggering Fforde Capel Canticle, which in theory is something I should really dislike but found myself tipping an ear to the speakers so as not to miss a word or note.
Which brings me to Tom’s guitar playing. Okay he’s no Clapton or Hendrix but he falls into the John Martyn or Guy Clark category where his playing sounds so very simple as he accompanies himself in song but is actually acutely intricate when you listen carefully; and the inclusion of the instrumental God’s Own Land (prelude) is a true joy to behold.
There is something really special and personal in the way Tom writes and delivers his songs; with several (Only Now Can You Run? Sorrow 1?) using subjects that will make the listener think, “Aha; so it’s not just me!” Which is quite a special talent that very few can achieve with such ease.
Choosing a Favourite Song has proved plenty difficult, I can tell you, as this is an old fashioned Long Player that needs to be listened to in one sitting with no distractions; but I will select God’s Own Land which is a quintessential modern English Folk Song that defies time and borders; and deserves to be heard across the whole wide world.
To some degree singer-songwriters, or Folk Singers if you will, have never gone out of fashion in my 50 years as a music fan, starting with Bob Dylan in the 1960’s and ending up today with Ed Sheeran; yet the vast majority are ordinary to say the least; with only a handful sticking in the collective memory…….the Merseyside poet-singer Tom Blackwell will surely become one of the latter category sooner rather than later.

Released July 23rd 2018
https://tomblackwell.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/tomblackwellsongs/

Scott Matthews – The Great Untold

Scott M

Scott Matthews
The Great Untold
Shedio Records

Considerate, warm, and full of grace.

The Great Untold is the sixth studio album from the English singer-songwriter Scott Matthews, which finds him once again recording at home (and the occasional church) which enables him to get an intimate and personal document of this collection of modern folk hymns.
With a clean, clear falsetto voice, along with with impeccable finger-picking, comparisons to Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake are not out of place, but I also hear quite a bit of John Martyn and even a touch of Paul Simon, and dare I say, Priscilla Ahn, in Matthews songs too, which aren’t sparse as much as they’re spared the weight of complications. Easy, yet not empty, there’s a dreamy cathedral quality to the music. Not religious, per se, but spiritual, sanctified, as if the subject matter is too close and personal for Matthews that he won’t take chances with. Why clutter up something that means the world to you?
“You’ll be mother’s precious gold, And I’ll see new reasons through your eyes,”
he states on the title track, obviously a paean to a newborn child, but it could also be about these ten songs, reverent as he is towards them.
There’s an evenness throughout this album too, but it’s purposeful. These are delicate elegies and descants, some thoughtful, others darker and more potent, full of depth and lyrical poetry. Take the gossamer-like musical shifts throughout “Lawless Stars” which give it a graceful integrity, the fun bounce of “Silence,” betraying its meditative subject matter. “Cinnamon” is warm sensuousness wrapped in softly picked electric guitar notes and lush synths, while the folksy harmonica and pedal steel of “Chapters” end the album in an upbeat, thoughtful mood.
This is a considerate and reflective album full of affirmations and grace, which should warm any heart.

Guest reviewer Roy Peak

Released April 27th 2018

http://www.scottmatthews.uk/