the matthew show

Naive Music, 2003


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


matthew is this guy, and he has this show. He used to live in Texas, now he lives in New York, where he's disappointed that people don't all dress like '40s film noir. (Hey, man, so am I. I wish I could afford to dress like Bogie.) He's a singer and songwriter, and after ten years of bar band purgatory he decided that "all I ever wanted to do was make an album I liked". If this sounds like it has some potential for being interesting, then congratulations; you have successfully thrown off another level of mass-market EmptyVee mind control and are ready to take a trip to my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Texas.

From the moment I opened up the envelope, I admit to having been intrigued by Texas, despite the slightly pithy prose on the back of the CD. It never quite made it into the Pierce Memorial Archives South Annex, and instead stayed near my stereo -- where it got played. For all his slightly off-kilter persona, the matthew show is pretty damn talented, and Texas is a really enjoyable album of guitar-oriented folk/pop.

The production is excellent, especially for an indie release; the matthew show is really fond of strumming guitars so that you can hear the strings chime and buzz, and I confess to being a sucker for being able to hear that on a CD. matthew's voice is clear, elegant, and expressive; he has a rich, simple intonation and phrasing perfect for the kind of lyric-intensive music he's delivering. Best of all, he has a sense of humour -- in the midst of these well-crafted songs we have the vitriolic, vicious, and insanely hilarious "Office Suite" spoken-word pieces documenting in harsh, garish color life as a temp worker. I damn near split a gut laughing.

Songs worthy of mention include the beautiful "Bring Me Safely Down"; "Old Enough", which is one of the best straight-ahead rockers I've heard this year; the bluesy "The Roof Is Leaking", an excellent cover of the Phil Collins song; and the funny, sad, and cynical "Loneliest Boy In Toyland". There are very few miscues; "Symbiotic Angel" drags a bit, but that's a minor quibble.

Texas is one of the best independent releases I've heard this year, from a brilliant songwriter who hopefully has a long and storied career ahead of him. Go out and buy a copy; you'll do yourself a favor by getting your hands on some excellent music, and maybe matthew can stop temping and relax a little. The man has issues, people.

Rating: A-

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© 2003 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Naive Music, and is used for informational purposes only.