‘First Aid for the Drowning’ by Matthew The Oxx - wholly distinctive(February 20, 2015)
The latest release from Matthew The Oxx, unconventional purveyor of thoughtful-folk, is another wholly distinctive album. Called ‘First Aid for the Drowning’ and according to the press release: “… inspired by the Balzac novel ‘La Peau de Chagrin’ and it focuses on transformation, and death, or both”. Admirers of this man’s idiosyncratic, individual and engaging style will find themselves once more enthralled by narratives ranging through fictionalised imaginings to singular views of experience and understanding.
From any perspective, voice and lyrics distinguish this album, intense, warmly-wrapped vocals, piercingly-detailed narratives, words forged into lyrical poetry. The instrumentation too holds its presence – subtle rather than obvious, mesmeric rather than uninhibited. At every level, the interminginling and blending comes together to mark these valued insights into one man’s worldview. There’s the uncertain expectation of ‘Beyond The Gates’, the gently melodic longing of love sealed within ‘I Want You’ or the innate sadness that radiates through ‘I Am A Crow’. Songs overflowing with sensitive perception yet clearly transparent in their finely crafted imagery and portrayals - take in the intricacies of ‘Elizabeth Mary McCann’, ‘She’s A Diamond In The Foam’ or ‘The Island’
Playing on ‘First Aid for the Drowning’ are Matthew Oldfield (aka Matthew the Oxx – guitar, banjo, vocals) Grant Allardyce (drums) Matt White (double bass) Francois De Ville (lap steel guitar) Mike Simmons (violins) Jo White (accordion) Clementine Oldfield (piano) Matthew Oldfield, Tim Bidwell, Ellie Ford, Elin Ivarsson (backing vocals) and Chris Boot (drums – ‘She’s A Diamond In The Foam’).
‘First Aid for the Drowning’ is an album aching to be heard, it needs time to fully develop its messages but when it does it’s utterly explicit. Matthew The Oxx (matthewtheoxx.com) releases ‘First Aid for the Drowning’ on 11 May 2015 on Wild Sound (wildsoundrecordings.com).
Reviewer: Tim Carroll