Fitting neatly into that rootsy electric folk/rock mix of Dylan/Band/Neil Young influences Matt Townsend and his band have produced an album that has harmonica, acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitars with a solid rhythm section and the embellishments of keyboards and, on occasion, musical saw to give body to Townsend’s songs. Produced by Jamie Bright, who is himself a multi-instrumentalist and integral part of the band here, it has a warm and relaxed overall feel. Townsend’s voice has solid timbre and it suits his songs to a tee without every being overly showy or, in truth, as unigue as some of his influences. But overall the sound is eminently listenable.
The cover artwork has vaguely eastern element that might suggest something more psychedelic in nature though there is a hint of William Blake in the lyrical direction which makes the words worth analysing. They take on a more mystical tone with tltles like Seventh Story, Hollow City (Free Me to My Soul), The Garden Where The Grass Forever Grows and Gratitude In Being. These are not the usual tales of dark streets and alcohol fuelled nights but have a deeper spiritual message with lines like “ thank you for this air, this earth, this life” or “like a man of constant trial, been searching’ for the answer to repression and denial”. There is a booklet featuring the lyrics which makes a useful companion when listening to the album and helps avoid any ambiguity.
These nine songs are certainly ones that would find favour with those people who like their music with a solid foundation that can be built upon and will warm to the overall familiarity of the musical path it treads. Matt Townsend has an obvious talent but he might find it a bit of a struggle to gain recognition outside of those who encounter this album or a live performance and who take the time to warm to it’s strengths. However there is music here that deserves consideration.