Matt Young is bringing an indie folk sound that almost comes off as a collection of modern sea shanties. That would make sense, the ocean has never been far out of Young's reach living in New Hampshire. The songs on his latest album In Which We Sing of Love, Death And The Ocean are jovial, quirky and pull on the heartstrings. Their theme is youthful, dealing with all the issues that define what it means to understand who you are as you become an adult. There's a solid lineup of instruments that fall outside your typical indie setup. There's accordion and harmonium which add to the quirk and and playfulness. They also work well with the piano.
Some of the songs play like pure folk, the stuff you might hear at a pub or street fair. There are songs designed to resemble drinking songs and seas shanties of old. Then there are the songs that hug closer to folksy indie tunes with more sophisticated layering and vocal styling. There were moments where I would have preferred that these types of songs might be separated into different albums. However both song styles are catchy and memorable. I'm not entirely sure where I would require a sea shanty or drinking song outside of very specific occasions. However I came to accept that specific occasions require specific songs and Matt Young and this album will be there waiting or me and anyone else who needs them.
These songs were stitched together over a period of time that is equal to about a decade. This is something that shows within the music and lyrics, the work grows. I like hearing musicians mature in real time, very cool touch. Everything from the recording to the mixing and mastering was an all hands on deck project done by the band members. You can certainly feel the warm and fuzzies of their camaraderie all over this album. While I may have personally tweaked a few audio options differently, I cannot deny that their collective effort created a very distinct atmosphere. The aim of the album is human connection, and there is plenty of humanity to be had in the blunt lyrics and whimsical musical aesthetic. On the humanity end this album gets top marks.
I think there is a market for this kind of music. It may not be a demographic that is easy to define, but I know it's there. Luckily I don't get the sense that this group is looking to sell out stadiums, These guys come off more as people trying to create intimacy and connection. I've the people that make up this demographic and they will love what Matt Young and his companions have brought to the table. Whatever this group pursues next, I hope they maintain the cozy companionship that gave this album wings.
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