29 Jun 2022
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Matt Joe Gow - Album Review: Break, Rattle and Roll

19 Jun 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

After touring and playing numerous festivals in support of Seven Years, Matt returned to the studio in 2018 to record the follow-up, Break, Rattle and Roll. Released to wide acclaim, it went one better than his previous release and was awarded Best Country Album in the 2019 Music Victoria Awards. This release found Matt employing more musicians outside his core band, which allowed him to produce arrangements which were even more complex. There are times, such as on opener Bridge over Concrete, when it is almost like a wall of sound with Matt’s vocals right in the middle. However, as with all his releases, Matt shows he has a clear understanding of the need for contrast so while there are some songs where there is no room for another note, there are others which are far lighter with plenty of space and fewer musicians involved. He again utilises some delicate female vocals in some places, while the harmonica is also an important foil. He has an innate sense of melody, and all the songs are instantly enjoyable on the first hearing, only improving the more the album is played.

He hit the ground running with his debut, released some 9 years before this, and since then has continued to make his presence felt with releases which have shown a definite progression. His style has not change dramatically, but rather it has become more refined as he understands more of what it is he wants to achieve, and finesses that. He is more confident in his vocals, allowing himself to hold long notes, while also bringing in instruments one would not normally think of in this genre, such as delicate trumpet on Details. One could imagine Ransom being played in small country/jazz room somewhere with two organs and a delicately picked electric guitar messing about in the intro, with Matt singing over the top, before the rest of the band comes in and the song starts to build. It is one of those songs which is almost impossible to date, as it is modern, yet it could also have been released fifty years earlier, such is the style and arrangement.

One of the highlights is We Get Lost, which is delicate and refined, bringing us back down to reality, allowing us to enter the real world once again. Like many musicians, his career was brought to a shuddering halt due to Covid, especially as he came back to NZ while his band and studios were in Australia, but he is again back in Melbourne and his fourth album is due out later this year, I can’t wait.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Matt Joe Gow

Matt Joe Gow grew up in the deep south of New Zealand, in a town with bad weather and great music; the birthplace of groups such as The Chills, The Clean and Straitjacket Fits. Surrounded by music, he was encouraged to pick up a guitar from a young age. After traveling the world, Matt moved to Melbourne, Australia, drawn by its culture and vibrant music scene. He formed a band, The Dead Leaves and in 2009 released his debut record The Messenger, produced by multi-Aria award-winner Nash Chambers, and featuring contributions from Jim Moginie of Midnight Oil, and iconic Australian country guitarist Bill Chambers.

As alternative country and Americana continued to grow in popularity, Matt steadily toured and supported acts such as Chris Isaak, The Jayhawks, Justin Townes Earle, James Reyne, Kasey Chambers, Marlon Williams, Jimmy Barnes, Mark Seymour and John Butler.

Whilst regularly making demos and working on other projects in the studio, it would be 2016 before the next Matt Joe Gow record, Seven Years, was released to critical acclaim. The record was self-produced by Matt and guitarist Andrew Pollock. After touring and playing numerous festivals in support of the record, and encouraged by its positive reception, Matt returned to the studio in 2018 to make the follow-up, Break, Rattle and Roll. An ambitious record with keys, horns, pedal steel and backing vocalists supplementing the core band, it was again released to wide acclaim and accolades including the Music Victoria Award for Best Country/Americana Album Of The Year. In addition to full band shows, Matt undertook a solo tour with Grant-Lee Phillips, with Phillips posting that [Break, Rattle and Roll's] "Bridge Over Concrete is on constant rotation in my head!".

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Matt Joe Gow

Releases

Break, Rattle and Roll
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Seven Years
Year: 2016
Type: Album
The Messenger
Year: 2009
Type: Album

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