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WILLIAM MATHENY —STRANGE COSTELLATIONS (Misra Records)

www.misrarecords.com

http://www.williammethany.com

 

West Virginia-born William Matheny, long time keyboard player with Athens, Ohio indie band Southeast Engine makes his full-length debut with this varied collection of work.

 

Musically, the singer-songwriter covers rock, pop Americana complete with a cutting edge not every act posses, and with it honed to perfection his stories are well presented.

 

Opening cut “Teenage Bones” has a roving feel, and with him romanticising about a former love, and then with familiar sounding country rock electric lead guitar he speaks of how he is looking for a gift from “God’s Left Hand” and how he once marched with the army and followed the plough. He pumps a little diversity on keyboards into an already potent mix sure to send a vibration through your limbs. “Out For Revenge” with its chugging beat, country dashed with rockabilly the keeps standard is retained. On cranking it up “Living After Death” tells of how he once lived in an apartment, and apart from him it was just the bugs! It was a low point in his life as he abused friendships, and he would go to parties and stand in the kitchen till morning but wouldn't say much. “Blood Moon Singer” is powered by a hooky rhythm and it contains some splendid electric lead guitar, and the vocals too are top-class.  

 

“My Father Knew Stoney Cooper” is an intriguing song that speaks of how his grandfather knew traditional country music act Stoney Cooper, and how he had six children and would send money on Friday and Jesus on Sunday. Matheny follows it with the frenetic, punk-like driven “29 Candles”, a million miles away from the song, and for that matter so too is the wistful and slightly mystical “Foolish Of Me” as he gets serious! “Funny Papers” typifies the record as country rock spills over like an over-filled coffee cup, and with piano, twangy electric lead guitar and a spot of pedal steel you could be listening to some subsidiary of Gram Parsons or one of his cohorts!  

 

With Matheny underlining his love of guitar driven music and dynamic rhythm “Man Of Science” veers across to undiluted rock, and with lyrics to colour one’s mind he also yields to pop rock. As for the final track, “(I Pray) You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone” he reflects on a past relationship and of how things have moved on. Musically, like with many songs on the album Matheny strikes a balance without him compromising any.

 

                                                                  Maurice Hope       

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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