Crystal Caves by Matt Cooke is an EP that features a potpourri of styles performed with earnest. The production is just as refined as the songwriting. Cooke is undeniably a good singer and you hear this on the very first song.
“Wildheart” opens the EP with crunchy alt-country guitar, lap-steel swells and sneaky piano and organ cameos. The unresolved ending is good as is the use of tambourine to increase the momentum of the song. The song does go on a little long, however and feels like it could be tightened up. That being said it's really catchy and possibly the most optimistic sounding song about death. He sings "Somewhere on down the line, we will surely meet our maker But I hope to find someone, so I don't die a heart breaker".
“Maryanne,” a western swing/old-timey song suffers from the same problem of being a little too long. However, that point is arguable. Still, the harmonized guitar lines are nice and the song sounds very McCartney-esque.
“If You Know What I Mean” is an up-tempo song, a little stiff, but with great organ swells. “Is There Time” has a ‘60s folk rock vibe with its kaleidoscope of guitar and fantastic harmonies in chorus.
The title track closes the EP and is the strongest song here. The vocal is fantastic, the groove solid and there are some nice feel changes throughout making for many interesting sections. The haunting lap steel is very effective. The surprise harmonica/guitar duet is interesting though is gets a little cluttered near the end and it would be nice to feature one instrument at a time or have them play in harmony to each other.
Overall there is a lot of promise in Matt Cooke's songs. Some tightening up and editing of some of the songs might help them be even stronger. With that there is still plenty on this EP to enjoy and would take a listen.
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