Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ 2012

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Sam Saunders at Whisperin’ and Hollerin’ had this to say:

Matt Bentley’s last album “Entropy” was released two years ago. It was a polished set of tunes and we liked it a lot. “Something To Find” is a full realisation of the promise that Entropy set out.

The basic Celtic root stock of Bellamy’s music is substantially (and successfully) embellished on this set of recordings with a wider range and a richer palette. Working again with producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist Joshua Vincent Goodey, Matt has added orchestral players from The Welsh College of Music, with delightful results. The augmentation is a model of economy and grace. No note or phrase is superfluous, every instrument is used to good purpose.

Personally, I sat up straight and then lost myself completely in the song “Gravity”. In its first moments a tugging guitar lines things up for a burst of three minute wonder where someone like Al Green could sail through. The soulful electric guitar plays tricks with the ears. There’s a surging slow riff that breaks into: “Before I leave you, before I go away…” It’s song with a sense of risk and a heart to break. Dynamics and development are perfect. Play it on The Radio please, Mr DJ.

“Gravity” apart, “Sacred Sealife” is another big tune, picked out in the guitar and then richly sung with a distinctively sweet strong voice. “Down” is a blood relative of “Gravity”. It has a Paul Brady feel to it. Space in the arrangement keeps it loose and dancing. There’s bass but no drum and there’s a subtle use of horns. The lyrics (as elsewhere on the album) have an edginess of self awareness and uncertainty. Prose rather than poetry.

The title track “Something To Find” starts with intricate guitars. It rolls nicely along, musing on life and learning and growing up. It tiptoes to the edge of immortality, then reverts to a nice bit of Matt’s mandolin playing. It’s good.

The whole album is a charmingly romantic thing. Its tender shyness pretends to be tougher and more knowing than youth could ever be. (listen to the fragile bravado of “King Of Leeds”). Guitar sounds are varied and sweet and no strummed chord is sacrificed to the tyranny of the rhythmic plectrum. Matt is a guitar player, of course. He doesn’t use it to lean on or scratch at when the muse fails. There is plenty for guitar fans to listen to.

The notable artwork on the digipak sleeve by the notable Matt Reid, drummer from fast rising Hawk Eyes.

Arrangements, double bass, electric bass, piano and Hammond are by Joshua Vincent Goodey. A dozen other instrumentalists all earn credits, on drums, alto and tenor saxes, trombone, trumpet, flugelhorn, French horn, oboe, violins, cello and viola.

8/10