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Matt Owens - Whiskey and Orchids (Urby Records)
A rather tasty collection of songs here, songs that form the basis of this Nigel Stonier produced debut solo outing from Noah and the Whale's bassist and co-founder Matt Owens. The eleven songs lean effortlessly towards a Country feel but appear to cover a broader canvas, with subjects ranging from knackered old pianos, American girls, a notable night before Christmas, together with a song that describes (in no uncertain terms) a less than favourable following year.
Lay Down Honey is instantly accessible as an album opener and first single release, featuring the voice of Thea Gilmore, which serves to lift and complement the song in equal measure. The Piano at the Greyhound demonstrates Owens' credentials as a fine lyricist, whilst the title song eloquently describes a failed relationship with both passion and affection. With shades of Shane MacGowan, notably on Christmas Eve and One Fuck of a Year, two seasonal songs, the latter has the potential to become an anthem for our modern world, a world possibly in crisis.