Matt McGinn – The Latter Day Sinner
The first thing we notice when this arrives is the stunning artwork by Mark Rehill who turns out some stunning artwork for Malojian. The CD that falls out of the envelope really is a beautifully presented package. The music that unfolds across our stereo is strong, subtle and beautiful. Much like Matt himself the album is unassuming in the way it showcases his talent as a songwriter and musician.
‘I’m Not Looking Down Anymore’ is one of three songs co-written with Nashville based Madeline Slate and also features her sharing vocals with Matt. John McCullough’s piano in the background gives this feel of the Rick Ruben and Johnny Cash recordings. It truly is a beautiful opener. ‘Lie’ is a song full of self doubt and heartbreak that finds the singer knowingly trapped in an unhappy relationship. “And lie one more time, for I just can’t take the truth from you, so please lie”. We’ve all been there, fooling ourselves we are happy when we knew we weren’t, but this isn’t some kind of blues, pity me song, it’s more a cry for help tinged with sadness. Again simple and sparse arrangements and some stunning guitar playing from Michael Logen make this another special track.
‘Darkest Before The Day’ delivers a message of hope and deliverance. “But take it from me what your feeling now will never stay, because it’s always darkest before the day”. The arrangements on this track are great. More up-tempo than the openers and featuring the Arco Quartet on strings we can see this becoming a live favourite at Matt’s gigs.
Colm McLean’s saw guitar leads us into ‘You Have Your Dreams’ and stays with us on this haunting tale of lost hopes and lives. It also makes us stop and think about the invisible people that as a society we are too busy or can’t be bothered to look at on our streets. “On a dark street corner she sits singing with a bottle of wine.” “Eyes that usually tell the truth are just sunken hollow shells”.
This is without doubt the most though provoking track on the record and one that champions the lost and the disposed on our streets in a sympathetic and human way. Matt’s skills as a songwriter really shine on this one and it paints some disturbing thought provoking imagery in the mind. The title track ‘Latter Day Sinner’ is a country rocking ‘Lay Down Sally’ type song that once again features some fine guitar playing from Colm McLean. This is good old time redemption rocker. “I’ve given up drinking until i get some more” tells us the road to hell is paved with good intentions. “Stone me alive let the devil preside, because I can’t carry all this weight” cries Matt in his call for redemption. This one has it all, drink, the Devil and good intentions.
‘We’re Fine’ features Anthony Toner on rhythm and slide guitar and beautiful harmonica by Mickey Raphael. As the title suggests this is a more reassuring song, although there’s still a hint of doubt and a call for reassurance. “We’re fine most of the time.” As the singer tells the tale of the relationships journey and beyond. The music and melody harks back to the Clapton classic ‘Tears in Heaven’.
‘It’s Just Your Way’ closes the record and there couldn’t have been a better finish. The strings are back and when mixed with Matt’s vocals, the guitars and the powerful yet subtle cymbal crashing by Paul Hamilton it delivers something very special. The song is an ode to a loved one that we can all take home with us.
It’s hard to believe that is only Matt’s second album. The maturity and the level of song writing is simply astounding. Matt seems to effortlessly deliver high quality powerful music in a quiet and subtle way. The multi-layered music is beautifully package and mixed, indeed the strength of this album is in the way the power is contained and not overblown. The production is perfect and the musicianship world class. This is a keeper and one that should be added to as many music collections as possible.