This one doesn’t mess about. A neat drum roll announces the latest track from the regular releases of one of our long time favourite SongSmith artists. Straight into a no nonsense sunny piano driven pop tune. Despite the fact that it is about train travel it really motors! (Yes sorry expect lots of (un)necessary train and travel puns …) .
As I am coming to expect from Matt the instrumentation is neat, well chosen and nicely varied so the verse is driven by a nicely strummed slightly syncopated acoustic whilst the chorus shifts up a gear (stop it!) to an electric guitar hook. Matt really knows how to develop a tune and uses the tricks of the trade in a creative and effective way. Because he has such a brilliant voice he pulls off doing his own backing vocals without it sounding ‘thin’ or irritating. Lots of artists can’t do this I reckon. He definitely can.
I loved it on the first listen. It has a really bright and total pop sensibility. On subsequent listens there is more to enjoy as there should be with such a well-crafted arrangements. It has definite airs of Barenaked Ladies and the backing track could be pure Attractions from the second wave Costello, midpoint between ‘This Year’s Model’ and ‘Armed Forces’. It doesn’t have Costello’s dense tongue twisting lyrics however that is not what the song is about. Its upfront message about the joys of travelling by train is underpinned by the wider joys of family life and returning to a home where you are loved. So, it is moving where Costello might be cynical. My only very small drather and slight reservation (stop it I said) is that the tinkling Steve Nieve style piano doesn’t play a more prominent part later in the song. The pace maintains until a slight rallentando to the close of a ear pleasing 3m30s. Deserves air play!
Matt’s development as a songwriter is assured and confident, as he progresses as an arranger and producer (the production is uncredited as far as I can tell) he will no doubt develop in signature style and sound. Two songs into 2021 the writing is impressive and the next episode keenly awaited by an expanding following.
If you like your pop sunny side up this is definitely for you. Out now on all the usual suspects though there is no Bandcamp for him at present so best places are ITunes and Spotify currently.
There and we didn’t get derailed by too many train puns! (You’re fired – Ed).
MJ Reynolds is on Facebook and goes Live most Mondays (originals) and Fridays (covers and originals) for the next few weeks at least, until the UK is unlocked and live music returns safely, hopefully very soon. Videos for both this single and the previous release, ‘Everglow’ are available on his YouTube channel.