“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”
(Endymion, John Keats)
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple”
Praise all the Gods who do, and do not, exist.
Lift up your voices in songs of joy.
Here is an album that has been crafted with the sole purpose of touching the hearts of the listener, and of applying the soothing balm of Gilead to the troubled souls of anyone who stumbles upon it.
It would have been a simple thing for Matt James to write songs that sounded a bit like the songs he was involved in thirty years ago. He could have exhumed the corpse of his old band, and like a musical Frankenstein, reanimated it. He has an audience, he could have played to them, played for them and reaped the rewards.
James has no interest in treading a path already well worn, these are not old songs repackaged with one eye on the nostalgia circuit. There is little here that will be filed under the banner of you know what. He’s not that sort of man, he’s not interested in giving you what you want…he has decided, instead, to give you what you need.
The world is on fire.
War and rumours of war.
Liars, lies and self-deceit.
Bastards and boors.
What is required are songs from the heart, songs borne, not of frustration, but of love, compassion, heart and soul.
“Breaking The Fall” brings light into the darkness of the seemingly never ending night that is the modern world. Songs that are warm, rich, passionate and cut through with the beauty that comes only from the purest of intentions.
At one point during “A Simple Message”, I suddenly found myself weeping. “Used to feel so jaded, my heart could barely take the rise and fall, but I tried to be happy and brave…”. Proper tears, rolling, not running, down my cheeks. I thought about what has happened in my life this year, the passing of three family members and one close friend, the deterioration in my own health, my mother’s illness…I have felt so jaded, my heart unable to take the rise and fall, but I tried to be happy and brave. When a stranger knows you better than you know yourself, they stop being a stranger. This was the song I needed.
It’s lovely when a band writes a tub-thumping, terrace stomping, anthem. Nonsense songs about nothing in particular. But the thrill of chanting along, never singing, and being lost in the banality, can be quite comforting. Those things aren’t songs, they are chants, built for the crowd. There is no real heart in something like “Don’t Look Back In Anger”. It may well bring comfort when a crowd chant along…but it is the musical equivalent of a McDonald’s, you know you will be hungry for something more half an hour later. There is nothing insubstantial on “Breaking The Fall”. This is not a Happy Meal album. This is the meal you have been hungering for these past two years.
Eat well tonight.
Breaking The Fall is released on July the 22nd and the album can be pre-ordered here.