Matt Berry - The Small Hours - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Matt Berry - The Small Hours

by paul_guyet Rating:8 Release Date:2016-09-16

As with most of Matt Berry’s four previous albums (save 2014’s fantastic somnambulant sojourn Music for Insomniacs) The Small Hours is a meticulously crafted pastiche of folk/prog rock from the 1960’s and 70’s. It is warm, amber-hued, and glistening with nostalgia. 

This time out, Berry wrote and recorded the bones of the album with his live band then gave it life on his own, resulting in one of his most meaningful releases to date. 

"Night Terrors" is the obvious stand out at three times the length (and depth) of anything else here. There are so many moods…from Batman ’66, to a 70’s Bond film chase scene, to a cathouse waiting room...there’s even a waltz or two thrown in. To me, “Night Terrors” is Matt Berry in nine plus minutes, a perfect musical encapsulation. There’s also "Obsessed And So Obscure”, which has some of the most sincere slide guitar that’s ever been recorded, "Say It Again” which is gauzy, like something heard through a door in a dream. The plinks of a xylophone are an interesting and unexpected addition. "Seasons On Fire” is just beautiful, with a guitar solo and chorus so packed with maudlin glory is seems to levitate, and “The Small Hours”, the closer, is soft and mournful and the only track that doesn't sound like a golden anachronism.

None of Matt Berry’s work has stuck with me as closely as his ethereal and somehow tragic theme from Snuff Box, that being said, The Small Hours is a thoughtful, graceful, and compelling work. Thanks to Berry’s choice of instrumentation and musical leanings, this doesn’t feel like a new album, more a forgotten gem from decades ago that's recently been discovered. Dust it off and listen to it again for the first time.

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