We get so many dull, male solo artists pushed at us in the mainstream of music, that its easy to dismiss the possibility of finding artists in this genre that you can connect with both in the lyrics and the music. There is a world beyond the likes of Newton Faulkner and Charlie Winston though and if it keeps throwing up musical gems like Entropy then its one we should all be happy to explore more.
The first full length album made widely available from Matt Bentley is a delightful piece of art, from the beautifully packaged album, to the dextrous guitar and emotive vocal that form the core of the albums sound.
He does have help from musical friends with double bass, piano, synths, trombones and various forms of percussion adding to the tracks, yet this is very much one mans vision of how he wanted the album to look, sound and feel, so its much credit to Matt that hes pulled it off.
Despite the album having a modern feel in many ways, the production has a lovely almost dusty 1960s feel to it, lending a folk quality to the record that is enforced by his knack of telling a story and engrossing you in the characters lives and situations.
He clearly draws on his own experiences in tracks like This Old Town and Hurt You, yet for me its Little Johny that has the most emotional pull and draws you into the harrowing situation (or at least as I interpret the lyrics they are anyway), while his vocals have warmth to them no matter what the subject matter, its the empathy that resonates from them that give you the personal connection to his tracks.
Instrumental tracks are always tricky on albums that are lyrical in the main, yet again though he demonstrates a real musicallity to make the instrumental interludes as welcome a listen to you the second time as the songs on the album are, containing nice flourishes that set them off perfectly, they add rather than intrude to the flow of the album.
A regular on the Leeds gig circuit (where he now lives) it would be well worth you catching him live if you get the chance, hes even more engaging live and despite a stripped down acoustic take on the songs due to playing completely solo his guitar playing and vocal performance gives the songs added depth you dont get from others.
Catch him on the 2nd May at The Beat Surrender All Dayer @ The Northern Monkey, or 7th May at Azucar in Leeds.