Matthew Fowler. Beginning.
Matthew Fowler/Bandcamp, 2013
Matthew Fowler: https://www.facebook.com/matthewfowlermusic
Matthew Fowler is an Orlando, Florida musician that makes Florida seem a far better place, in my opinion. Recorded in a kitchen, and distributed via Bandcamp with a “pay what you want” model, this is music for the love of music, and that’s the best kind. This isn’t beaches and reggae and sunshine; Fowler’s sound is that of an unpolished every-man with a talent and passion for song. Give me that over a walk on the beach any day.
Beginning is an album to play beginning to end; don’t put this one on shuffle if you can avoid it. The lyrically driven, storytelling songs aren’t done justice by a piecemeal approach, and you lose the forest for the trees.
Open Road is calm but solidly written, with a gruff-ish voice adding character and contrasting with the more classic instrumental lines, while the sister-song in the “Leaving Home” pair- Telephone Calls- has a more brassy steel-string sound with more finely tuned vocals. Not exactly at opposite ends of any spectrum, the songs together give a nice partnering of somber and joyful, parting and reunion. Come Be With Me is a plaintive request (without begging) to continue together. The vocals are not quite balanced, as the duet is extremely heavy on male voice and light on female, and might not be the best representation of a relationship, but other than that the song works well. This slight qualm carries over into Near, but again, the technical aspects carry the song into memory with a positive shine. The horns highlighting the piece are a gorgeous touch at the end of Near. To vary things a bit further, Beginners features a melodica, and while beginnings are usually happy times, this song has a serious tone that grounds it while letting the novel instrumentation lift higher. Don’t Change is a big change from the previous song, but also a return to the sounds found at the start of this album, with a little more distance between Fowler and the mic for a more distant, tinny quality to his singing. Following on the heels is Alive with its more full-bodied vocals, lush harmonica, and more resonant musical space. Alive nicely captures the depth that even a simple life can have. Blankets comes closest to following the rule of three-minute songs, and those few seconds make it tighter and more fulfilling, and the increased diversity in sounds lends a hand to make this my favorite composition of the nine. Ending the album, Smoke is simple but rich, and features some rich vocalizations and strumming.
Personnel: Matthew Fowler (Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Piano), Tana Prado (Vocals, Piano), Adeline Prado (Vocals), Kyle Miller (Stand-Up Bass), Sam Coplin (Trumpet, Melodica), Micaiah Reid (Trumpet)
Tracks: Leaving Home/Open Road, Leaving Home/Telephone Calls, Come Be With Me, Near, Beginners, Don’t Change, Alive, Blankets, Smoke
On a more personal note, I’d like to dedicate today’s album choice, especially track 4- Beginners- to my mother-in-law, Alice, and her new husband, David, as they celebrate one week of marriage today. Beginners, indeed, and may they have a blessed journey for many years to come!