Matthew P – Long Straight Lines (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
DO we need another acoustic folk-pop singer in the mould of Newton Faulkner, Jack Johnson and company? In the case of Suffolk’s Matthew P the answer is an emphatic yes.
Debut album Long Straight Lines is a beautifully crafted listen, demonstrating his ability to perform everything from stripped back acoustic tracks to upbeat, full band performances.
But then Matthew P is no slouch when it comes to song-writing and he is far from an overnight success having made his name writing tracks for the likes of Joel Pott (Athlete), Iain Archer (Snow Patrol) and The Hoosiers.
The highlights on the album are varied and many. Opening track On Top is a feel-good, toe-tapper of a strum-along that contains a head-nodding vibe, a melodic central riff and some great lyrics about the nature of change (“you can stay on top of everything, you can be on top of anything, if you keep your mind and head from hanging down low, with no other place to go”).
It immediately endears you to this artist.
Title track and former single Long Straight Lines then showcases his full band capabilities and drops a very Beck-like vibe, both in use of the beat backdrop and the gruff vocals. The ‘woo-hoo’ harmonising also lends it another breezy disposition.
The bouncing piano chords of Hey Lady threaten a Regina Spektor moment, before a deeply laidback vocal escorts the listener through another upbeat slice of piano-driven pop. It’s yet another feel-good song.
But the tempo then changes a little with the more stripped back Little You Little Me, a beautifully constructed ode to love that contains some fun lyrics and some really cute guitar licks.
The Newton Faulkner/Jack Johnson comparisons are sure to strengthen around tracks like Feet On The Ground and Long Way Home but while they may possess that classic troubadour feel, Matthew then picks up the pace and wrong-foots easy expectation with the vibrant Without The Sun, a shimmering slice of power-pop rife with sunshine harmonies and rousing tambourine beats.
Gilly flirts with some classic Rolling Stones riff structures in its guitar work and demonstrates Matthew’s ability to switch from pop to folk-rock (and drops an infectious chorus to boot), while I Miss You is positively strewn with catchy piano chords and upbeat melodies that offset the angst-driven, longing lyrics.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that the album rarely puts a foot wrong, mixing tempos and delivering songs of genuinely broad appeal and catchiness. If you don’t find at least three or four songs to really, really like, you may need your ears checking.
But all told, this is a really great listen.
Download picks: On Top, Long Straight Lines, Little Me Little You, Without The Sun, I Miss You, Hey Lady, Wedding Song