Matthew Good – Lights of Endangered Species

February 21st, 2012  |  Published in CD Reviews

]Release Date: May 3rd, 2011
Reviewed By Evelyn Miska Krieger

Matthew Good is one of those artists that, for fans, can make you feel like you’re part of a special secret society. Good’s music is subtle, lacking that in-your-face quality that many groups and artists rely heavily on, sometimes to their detriment. For those music aficionados who are willing to take the time to savor an album and slowly enjoy its complexities, Lights of Endangered Species will be a treat.

“Extraordinary Fades” starts things off with a subdued drama combining little more than drums, vocals and a piano at first. It has a somewhat creepy tone, almost ominous, but where it could have become overdone, the simplicity of the song adds a type of beauty and works as a great example of the concept of less is more. That general melancholy continues on “How It Goes” but shifts enough to keep things moving. Good’s deep, somewhat husky vocals blend well with the layers of instrumentation and each piece is complementary of the others. Including so much could have caused for one aspect to overshadow others, but Good finds just the proper balance.

“Shallow’s Low” is one of the longer tracks on Lights of Endangered Species, but also ends up being one of the most lovely songs on the album. Yes, it’s slow, moody and dark, but it has a lushness and energy to it that comes out as it progresses. The inclusion of horns and electric guitar at the 3:20 mark is a bit surprising at first, but really makes “Shallow’s Low” something unique and exciting to listen to. Somewhat like the surprise shift in “Shallow’s Low,” “Zero Orchestra” might startle some listeners and doesn’t immediately seem like it fits the flow of the collection. With a much bigger, far less subdued tone, “Zero Orchestra” certainly forces a change of energy with it’s jazzier, more piano-based approach. It’s a strong song and has a lot going for it, but might be a little too much of a break from the mood previously set.

“Set Me On Fire” is a track that brings back that remarkable subtlety, building slowly as it progresses. With each layer that is added, the richness of sounds becomes that much more impressive, weaving and melding their way together to add drama, but then dropping out suddenly to allow focus on the vocals and melody. The fact that the Good knows when to add emphasis and when to let simplicity reign speaks volumes about his confidence and understanding of strong songwriting.

Good’s extensive experience and history of songwriting is obvious on Lights of Endangered Species. It is polished where it needs to be and just raw enough to feel real. For those people in Good’s secret society, his latest album (and possibly his last if rumors are true) is a fantastic addition to his repertoire and to aficionados’ collections.

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