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Reviews: Matthew Roach ~ Borrowed Time|
Posted on Sunday, October 07, 2007 @ 22:54:19 UTC
Artist: Matthew Roach
CD: Borrowed Time
Quote: "Roach’s greatest skill is the ability to create humorous story songs."
By Dan MacIntosh
Matt Roach is a curious artist. His Borrowed Time CD is a highly personal collection of songs, which – if I understand the liner notes correctly – he recorded entirely by himself. He even admits that this is “low-tech.” But if you only hear this disc’s technical limitations, you’ll completely miss its overwhelming charm.
Roach’s greatest skill is the ability to create intriguing story songs. For instance, “The Desire to Live” begins by talking about the oldest woman in the world, who was/is something like 113 years old. But instead of dwelling on this woman’s long life, Roach uses the occasion to consider how much life truly means, if it even means much at all, once the desire to live is gone. Another intriguing track is titled “Call Your Mom." No, this is not one of those Mother’s Day phone company ads, put to song. Instead, Roach sings about doing more than just calling your mother; he carries it further and suggests that sons/daughters make an extra effort to spend quality time with their mothers.
There are a fair number of love-gone-bad songs on this disc, too. “A Husband’s Daydream” imagines ways to escape an unhealthy marriage; “Is This What Happens To Love?” is a little like that Peggy Lee song ("Is That All There Is?") because it finds Roach looking at a love relationship and wondering, ‘Is this it?; “I Knew You Well” investigates why couples so often argue.
This CD is nearly as stripped down, sonically, as an old folk album. Many of these tracks feature only Roach’s voice, his electric guitar, and harmonica. One striking exception to this approach is “We’re Still in Love," which adds bass and minimalist piano. Granted, this is by no means a grand orchestration. But when placed next to the rest of these tracks, it’s pretty fancy.
While there’s no denying the attractiveness of Roach’s stories, his way with words sometimes gets the better of him. During “The Whole-Hearted Man” and others, Roach tries too hard to squeeze too many words into his phrases. He’d be much better off, I think, making his lyrics more concise and to the point. This would allow his songs to flow so much better.
I can well understand why Roach made this “low tech” CD. He did it to please himself, instead of trying to wow the music industry. Nevertheless, he may want to consider letting a few seasoned session players onto his next recording. He can do this without also compromising his artistic values -- especially if they help spice up his already fine songs. He may not be a polished singer/songwriter (yet), but Borrowed Time reveals Matt Roach be a voice well worth hearing.
Artist Website: http://www.mattroachmusic.com
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