Sunday, 14 May 2017

MATTHEW EDWARDS & THE UNFORTUNATES - FOLKLORE (Gare Du Nord Records LP, D/L).

If there is a label anymore quintessentially British than Gare Du Nord Records, then we have yet to come across it………………in a parallel universe somewhere a version of Gare Du Nord exists with David Bowie, Syd Barrett, Marc Bolan, Kevin Ayers, Fairport Convention, Robyn Hitchcock and quite possibly ELO all signed to the label, no doubt a fantasy wish list for this universe. For a while now the GDN family of artists have been releasing a mix of quality gentle psychedelia, 70s influenced Pop/Rock and quirky Indie Pop (usually on the same record) that could not exist anywhere beyond these shores. New to the label and with an album out very soon, Singer/Songwriter Matthew Edwards very English blend of wry melancholia, literate lyrics and avant-garde flourishes is a perfect fit for Gare Du Nord. Born and bred in Birmingham UK but having relocated to the U.S.A in the 90s, Folklore, the new album from  Matthew Edwards & The Unfortunates chronicles Edwards' return to his home city after 20 years living in California. Recorded at veteran Indie producer John A Rivers (Felt, Dead Can Dance and many more) Leamington Spa studio and in San Francisco, with contributions from ex members of 70s English Avant-Rock group Henry Cow (singer Dagmar Krause and guitarist Fred Frith) and ex Captain Beefheart, Pere Ubu and PJ Harvey (among others) keyboard player Eric Drew Feldman, Folklore is a beautifully constructed perfect collision of Art Rock and introspective songwriting as cascades of discordant guitars crash headlong into lush Folk-like arrangements that underscore Matthew Edwards’ wonderful songs.

Folklore would work perfectly as an acoustic album, the songs are that good, however the boat has been well and truly pushed out and the album has a massive “wide screen” sound that make the songs sparkle. Pulling together a whole host of influences/inspiration from nearly five decades of popular (and not that popular) music, Folklore blends classic Scott Walker and David Bowie with bucolic English Folk Rock adding Post Punk/Art Rock influences from the likes of Wire into the mix to create an expansive soundscape that has been compared to the work of Stephen Duffy’s Alt Folk Rock influenced Lilac Time, Neil Hannon’s witty and literate The Divine Comedy and the sharp pop sensibility of Edwin Collins’ post Orange Juice albums. The Bowie/Walker influence runs deep here, tracks like the fantastic ‘Ungainly’ with it’s Mike Garson-esque piano melody that could be an outtake from Aladin Sane and ‘The Willow Girl’, were the feel of the mighty Scott 4 is evoked, channel the late 60s/early 70s output of two of the finest songwriters of their generation. Elsewhere there are more modern influences with buzzing Post Punk guitars on ‘I Can Move The Moon’ and ‘When We Arrived At The Mountain’ while the album closes with the frantic ‘A Young Man’ which is not a million miles away from the awesome Post Punk Skiffle sound of The Woodentops. Simply stunning, Folklore is an absolute gem of a record with ten rock solid tunes that is way more than the sum of it’s influences. It’s safe to say that Matthew Edwards & The Unfortunates have recorded an absolute brilliant LP that demands to be heard by as many people as possible, distilling years of experience and musical inspiration into an album that is both comfortingly familiar and starkly experimental………………seriously recommended and then some.

Due for release 02/06/2017 by Gare Du Nord Records and available on vinyl from any record shop worth it’s salt. Pre-orders and download available from the Matthew Edwards & The Unfortunates Bandcamp site here………


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