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Matthews Southern Comfort

New Mine

Review by Gary Hill

I previously reviewed another set from this act. Like that one, this is not necessarily the tightest fit under progressive rock. I would say that from a standpoint of the music alone, this comes closer. The thing is, this act is a project of Iain Matthews, and as a member of Fairport Convention he qualifies as a prog artist. I'd land this under that heading for that point alone. I will say that this set seems more diverse than the previous one. I also like it more. Given how good that one is, it says a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ethiopia
There is a trippy kind of almost dreamy jam at the heart of this. The tune showcases a rather mellow prog sound. There is also some real folk music at the core of it. There are hints of Pink Floyd in some of the keyboard and guitar sounds and lines on this piece.
The Hands Of Time

More folk-based, this reminds me quite a bit of early David Bowie at times. It's a solid cut that lends a different flavor to the proceedings.

Feed It
There is a bit of Americana in the mix here. Folk music and more merge on this classy piece.
Patty's Poetry
While the core of this is folk music, there is a lot more going on here, too. I can make out hints of things like The Grateful Dead. There are some rather definite prog elements on display in some of the instrumental work, too.
Working In The New Mine
There is a driving kind of folk rock vibe built into this thing. The Grateful Dead is again a valid reference point. This has some cool shifts and turns and really works so well.
Starvation Box
The intricate motif that opens this makes me think of a folky version of early Genesis. The cut grows out from there to a more proggy arrangement. Still, the cut has folk and even some jazz in the mix. It's a bit of variety, though, and one of the highlights of the set. it's also one of the most blatantly proggy things on the disc.
C'mon Amigo
There is some real down-home folk music at the heart of this, complete with country or bluegrass elements. It is not the proggiest thing here, but it is solid.
The Hole
A bit more of a folk rocker, this has more of that Bowie element. I'm reminded a bit of The Syn, too. This is proggier than the last cut, but more of a mainstream folk rock song. I like the piano led movement quite a bit.
A Secret Is Gone
This comes in with a folk rock arrangement that has some drama and mystery. Spoken vocals come in over the top. The track works forward from there with style. This is a rocking number that is still on the melodic, acoustically driven side of the equation. There is a good balance of rock and mellower sounds. This cut is proggier than some of the rest and has some good range. It also has some cool hooks.
The Sacrificial Cow
This rocker has a healthy helping of Bob Dylan built into it. There are some jazzy changes and proggy bits later in the piece.  As it shifts to the piano led movement I'm reminded a bit of the Doors.  This is energetic and effective. It's also very dynamic and proggy. It's one of the highlights of the set.
Inbetween

There is a real old-school rock groove to this. It also has some hints of jazz in the mix. It's another powerhouse tune that works really well. There is a smoking hot rockabilly guitar break later that's followed by some almost honky-tonk piano work.

In My Next Life
There is a dreamy, jazzy element at play here. This is a mainstream cut with a lot of folk rock built into it.
 
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