Americana UK 2012


Kai Roberts of Americana UK had this to say

The first thing which captures your attention here is Matt Bentley’s voice; a feathery instrument often teetering on the edge of falsetto, with an affecting vibrato and just the hint of a Yorkshire accent.

It immediately conveys warmth, even at its most wistful and in the early stages of the album, it is undoubtedly the focus which lures you in. For whilst the opening salvo of songs are scarcely substandard, they are assuredly restrained — all delicate fingerpicking and gentle dustings of tonal colour from a piano or strings. No matter how good these early songs are individually, you fear that if the album continues in a similar vein, it will grow dirgeful.

Thankfully, however, the atmosphere does begin to lighten. The first hints emerge on the third track, ‘Down’, which introduces a more robustly strummed guitar and even some stabs of brass. It is a mood which reaches fruition with a trio of tracks in the middle of the album (‘You Won’t Know My Name’, ‘The King of Leeds’ and ‘Life In Reverse’). These songs are positively joyous, abetted by the warmth of the brass and a new rhythmic urgency. Indeed, ‘The King of Leeds’ is arguably the album’s highlight. Whilst the premise is perhaps a little too self-consciously anthemic, there is no doubt that it is also successfully so.

Perhaps the most interesting facet of the album is the extent to which it achieves a rare symbiosis between the lyrical content and the musical ambience. If Bentley’s broad Yorkshire accent on ‘The King of Leeds’ is too obvious an example, then consider how the shimmering guitar work on ‘Let It Go’ is perfectly matched to a paean to the elusive British summer, or the brusque clatter of ‘Life In Reverse’ echoes its kitchen-sink poetry. This aspect doesn’t always succeed – for instance, Sacred Sealife comes across as overly fey — but on the whole it lends an extra layer of depth to an album already replete with surface pleasures.