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Matt Stevens - Ghost CD (album) cover


Matt Stevens


Crossover Prog

3.84 | 13 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I am very glad that I was the PA member who "sponsored" Matt's inclusion on the site as a solo artist, and I am grateful to the Crossover team for their no nonsense agreement.

Matt Stevens is a very talented multi instrumentalist who has been making quite a few waves in the progressive rock community in recent times. This superb album, released last year, received a glowing review from Classic Rock Presents Prog, no less, and he is clearly a very busy live artist as well. If you can, get his Live In Blackpool album from his Bandcamp site.

Whilst, I suppose, the multi instrumentalist tag will raise the inevitable Mike Oldfield comparisons, do not be fooled, because, if anything, the closest I can describe this man's music as getting to is Anthony Phillips, formerly of Genesis fame. This is meant as a deep compliment, because this is primarily a guitar led album which reminds me in so many ways of some of Phillips' finest moments such as Field Day. Stevens manages that extremely difficult trick of making acoustic and non vocal music remain interesting for the duration, and no better example can be found than in the cracking pace of Big Sky, built around a simple acoustic chord, but with such a pace and variations found in the effects at the end to make you smile in wonder at it all.

The previous reviewer rightly, in my opinion, drew comparisons between some of the music on offer here and Radiohead, although, in my opinion, it moves way beyond that. Whilst, these days, Radiohead tend to make me feel rather despairing and miserable, this doesn't. The bright percussion and simple, but effective, bass riff accompanying the Greenwood- esque guitar on Eleven is perhaps the best example. It's cheerful and uplifting.

Just about my favourite track is Draw, featuring some extremely clever acoustic guitar work, bright and uplifting, set against a lovely jazzy drum and bass backdrop. Effects towards the end bring a very eclectic feel, and it is here, I think, that my only note of criticism comes to proceedings. I love Stevens' acoustic guitar work, but I do feel that future offerings might wish to explore tracks which feature, for example, samplings, bass, drums, and other instruments more to the fore, if only to "mix it up" a little more.

For example, I love the percussive work on the longest track on offer here, Lake Man. It is a marvellous piece of music, with some very nice effects which, in my opinion, should have been more to the fore alongside the stunningly simple, but supremely effective, percussion beat. That said, you do rather marvel at the guitar playing. Similarly, I love the glockenspiel on the mellow Glide.

The final two tracks, the title track itself, and Moondial, finish off proceedings in a very strong manner.

Ghost creates a mood and a soundscape that cries out at you that there might just be something, or somebody, watching you. Far more satisfying than any of the mad psychic frauds you see on telly in bringing you closer to the "other side".

Moondial has a cracking riff attached to it, and I wonder just how much more it would have achieved with a little more "electricity", for want of a better phrase.

I have no hesitation in awarding this album four stars. It is excellent, and it is, to me, refreshing to hear a new artist bringing this approach rather than some of the interminable doom laden metal that seems to be particularly in vogue at the moment.

Very highly recommended to all who appreciate Phillips, Hackett, and Fripp in his more ambient moments. I think that this man is capable of bringing a genuine masterpiece to us in the not too distant future, and I think this will be done by bringing a work based around the full range of his obvious musical talents, rather than a pure acoustic guitar led album, as pleasurable as that undoubtedly is.

lazland | 4/5 |


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