Promise [Released 02.03.15]
‘Scenes From a Moving Window’ finds young guitar slinger Krissy Matthews teaming up with former Cream lyricist and esteemed producer Pete Brown to great effect.
This is the 22 year old’s 4th album and it’s a notable step up from his last effort ‘Hit the Rock’, which bristled with intent but lacked direction and a decent production. No such problems afflict this album which derives a workable equilibrium from the counterweights of youthful exuberance and an experienced producer and lyricist.
Krissy’s road chops come to the fore on confidently played material and booming arrangements that showcase an expressive vocal in the best possible way.
The Matthews and Brown partnership smoothes out the raw edges and focuses on song craft and direction. There’s a new maturity to the songs and a greater depth to a production that blends his voice with his guitar tones and seamless band interplay to create a melodic wall of sound.
Many of the twelve songs find him in the role of a confessional narrator, as he lays himself on the line on the melodic relationship song ‘Day By Day’: ‘Waking up in the morning, Seems to be some kind of warning. If I’ve got a future to share, I still want you to be there’.
Impressive keyboard player Paul Jobson lets his last note resonate to create a dramatic pause before Krissy’s guitar driven resolution. It’s intricate moments such as this that gives the album its vibrant flow.
Krissy opens with some finger picking and a rap on ‘If I Had A Time Machine’ on which he tells us: ‘The old guys tell me when they reminisce, That the nineteen sixties was nothing but bliss’.
It’s a 60’s sounding pop homage to the influential Brit Blues era and sounds like The Pretty Things. He name checks the venues, bands and transatlantic influences of a scene that funnily enough spawned his collaborator Pete Brown
The song benefits from harmony vocals on the hook and concludes with an unanswered question: ‘All that fantastic history, the direction to go is a hell of a mystery’. But as he heads into the riff driven ‘I’ve Been Searching’, you get a pretty good idea of what he’s aiming for!
‘It Ain’t Worth It’ is a relaxed blues transformed into a booming arrangement via a change of tempo and a meaty guitar solo, and incorporates Steely Dan style bv’s and a call and response from Krissy and Pete on the outro.
Krissy’s evokes Glenn Tilbrook’s timbre and his melodic sensibility on ‘Can’t Get It Down On Paper’, a beguiling slow burner that’s got radio potential.
The rock solid groove, funky undertow and three part harmonies of ‘Out of Control’ is an album highlight, while the lyrics have Pete Brown stamped all over them: ‘Humans turning into machines, Rogue computers turning mean, digital confusion reigns online, Robots probing into your mind’.
Krissy phrases confidently and colours the keyboard led track with contrasting shredded guitar effects before finally soaring on an impressive uplifting solo. Everything comes together on a slick production as the band jams expansively on the mid-section of the song.
Then there’s the gentle rumination about the lifestyle of a former manager and agent on ‘Bubbles And The Seven Phones’. The song’s understated presence is boldly ripped asunder by a brusque, dirgy toned solo.
‘Searching The Desert For The Blues’ doesn’t quite live up to Blind Willy McTell’s wonderful title, as Krissy struggles for gravitas on a vocal ill suited to a big rock arrangement, but the country tinged percussive feel of ‘Roadsick Blues’ brings unexpected variety and humour: ‘You can stop snorting coke, Use the speed just a little less, But there ain’t no rehab for the roadsick’. And he concludes with the timeless refection that: ‘ You can take the man off the road, But you can’t take the road off the man’.
His vocals are far better on the slow blues ‘Heading South’ and possibly mirrors the kind of moment when Kenny Wayne Shepherd realized he could sing after all. The country tinged ballad has one eye on the American market and is closer to say Jackson Browne than Derek Trucks or KWS and offers Krissy a different musical outlet.
He’s back to hard riffling on ‘Language By Injection’, which rises and falls impressively and he finishes with a big production rocker ‘Bad Boy’, notable for its enveloping hook and big organ sweep.
Then just when you think it’s all over, he returns with a coruscating guitar over a tic-toc rhythm to provide a final dynamic twist. It’s production touches such as this that makes ‘Scenes From A Moving Window’ his best ever album. ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
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