26 Mar 2023

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Matt Joe Gow - Album Review: Between Tonight and Tomorrow

09 Mar 2023 // A review by Roger Bowie

There’s a simple drumbeat and then this quintessential Americana voice bursts forth and it’s a shipwreck, which is no place to start, but this ship’s been sunk for years and years and Matt Joe Gow opens his fourth album with a Shipwreck and it’s a great place to start, with a rich, full sound and Katya Harrop on backing vocals, and we’re away…

Matt Joe Gow is a man who knows who he is, is comfortable in his skin and oozes authenticity into his entire persona and so it’s no surprise that this persona translates into song. He’s from Dunedin but has plied his trade in Victoria for umpteen years and happily for us is increasing his focus on his home country fans, with a short tour just completed and more to come…..(read on, folks, read on)

His fourth album is out today, March 10th, Between Tonight and Tomorrow and it arrives after a long night of isolation and grief and lockdowns and all the trauma that has afflicted humankind these past few years and now gets released to the world where it now belongs. We’ve heard some singles but now we get the package, a package deliberately designed as a stripped back, raw and honest presentation of this laid-back troubadour and the essence of his humanity.

Til My Whole Heart Bursts is a twangy country-flavoured love song about the extent of emotion and emotional trauma and this perhaps is the first indication of loss but here it’s given an upbeat context which just invites us to tap feet and sing along before a banjo plunks and we’re Between Tonight and Tomorrow, trying to hold on, another wave of grief makes the night long, an night of impending loss and how to prepare. It’s the title track, so it’s important, and Matt insists it’s a song of hope, but Matt lost his Mum last year, and it takes a long time to get over that, losing your Mum.

But that’s what he’s trying to do, with a brief and mournful Intro, he bravely faces the aftermath with a song of hope and glory, perhaps an anthem, with an anthem-like rising chorus which invites us to Go Ahead, Celebrate and so we must. Like we used to. Surely a live favourite.

Like the Rains with waves crashing over me, evokes Eagles, Petty but with a darker side, a touch of Justin Townes Earle, an observer rather than a participant, before we are treated to the standout track, the already released as a single Sweet Collapse which takes a hold of us now with a pleasing, hooky riff and we ain’t going back to the song’s predecessor, Georgia Rose, from 2016’s Seven Years. Both great songs, oozing southern country rock authentic as fried chicken.

Speaking of southern country rock, NYJJ hits us with a Rolling Justin Townes Stones sound and wailing pedal steel before the voice goes up an octave and takes us away.

Just This One has a dylanesque opening harmonica salvo and a quiver in the voice. I don’t want to think, hear, sing about you anymore, but maybe just this one’s for you. Gorgeous. Foreboding. Closing in is actually the closing track, a soulful, sombre and sobering hymn. Perhaps a song to his mother, one of those deeply personal expressions of the human condition which we are unlikely to hear performed live. All the more precious at the end of an album.

But before Matt Joe Gow closes in, he treats us to another classic alt-country rocker, with an uplifting gospely chorus which shines a light of hope after the long night between tonight and tomorrow. We Are Born, we go on, we win some, we lose some but we’re not alone in the hands of Matt Joe Gow.

Between Tonight and Tomorrow is co-produced by Matt and his Dead Leaves band member Andrew Pollock is perhaps his best album yet, but that doesn’t do justice to the earlier albums so let’s just say Between Tonight and Tomorrow is a worthy addition to a fine body of work which captures the essence of character of one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets, Matt Joe Gow. You don’t have to keep this secret, let it out, go on, tell everybody, sometime between tonight and tomorrow.

And go see him live with Kerryn Fields throughout New Zealand from late April through to King's Birthday weekend at the Tussock Country Music Festival in Gore.

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


Between Tonight & Tomorrow
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Break, Rattle and Roll
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Seven Years
Year: 2016
Type: Album
The Messenger
Year: 2009
Type: Album

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