Matt Bentley is a singer songwriter hailing from Leeds (where else these days? It seems like every other CD weve reviewed recently has come from Leeds) and plying a quirky, upbeat type of melancholia, if that isnt too much of a contradiction. Think Iron & Wine or Noah & The Whale.
The first thing that strikes about this record is that Bentley has a sweet, sweet voice. Ive no idea if he was ever a choir boy but he has the purity of tone that something like that can bestow. The second is that hes no mean guitar player. The combination is a good one, giving the package a old time troubadour type sound.
The first couple of tracks jolly along nicely, This Old Town is a swinging folk number with grooving brass backing and Sacrifice is a more trad type of number for this genre. However, on A Thousand Times he drops it right down and exposes his soul a little and the result is breathtaking. This is a proper hairs on the back of the neck song. It swells and builds slowly and gorgeously over the course of its five minutes with Bentleys voice really coming in to its own. Truly beautiful.
On Instrumental In A-Minor and Instrumental #2 Bentley gives the voice a rest and lets his fingers do the talking and whilst hes no James Blackshaw, and frankly who is, he is a pretty accomplished player and both pieces stand up nicely, but its the songs that really grab the listener. Worm is a lovely West Coast tinged strummer and the albums closer, Sonata, is another beautiful ballad with a somewhat unusual steel drum backing.
In all, Bentley is a genuine talent, with a superb voice and writing great songs, whats not to like?
Top Tracks: ‘A Thousand Times’, ‘Sonata’.