|Matthew Perryman Jones — Land Of The Living (2012)|
Matthew Perryman Jones — Land Of The Living
Location: Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Album release: 2012
Record Label: Cante Jondo Records
01. Stones From The Riverbed
02. Poisoning The Well
03. I Won’t Let You Down Again
04. O Theo
05. Sleeping With A Stranger
06. Waking The Dead
07. Keep It On The Inside
08. Canción De La Noche
09. The Angels Were Singing
10. Land Of The Living
Press contact: Eileen Tilson : firstname.lastname@example.org/ Tipping Point Entertainment Group
By Eric Allen, June 5th, 2012 at 12:01 pm Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Ξ Singer–songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones returns with his third full–length and first album since 2008’s Swallow the Sea. The Levittown, PA transplant and current Nashville resident’s latest was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s letters to his brother (“O, Theo”), Federico Garcia Lorca’s idea of Duende (a heightened sense of emotion, expression, and authenticity in music), and the writings of Persian poet and philosopher Rumi.
Ξ Although you may not instantly recognize his name, you will undoubtedly know his voice, as MPJ’s songs have been featured in numerous television shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, and One Tree Hill, just to name a few. I first discovered Matthew Perryman Jones’ music back in 2007 when I heard his poignant “Save You” featured in an episode of ABC Family’s sci–fi teen drama Kyle XY (don’t judge), and have continued to feverishly seek out his peerless pantheon of work since.
Ξ Land of the Living was recorded in Round Top, Texas and funded by online donations from Jones’ loyal fan base, but the only things that really matter are the evocative, majestic soundscapes and lyrically substantive material found in the 10 tracks presented here. After one listen, you’ll begin to ponder why Jones isn’t already a major star? Perhaps his work is too severe or cerebral for pop radio’s beat dominated airwaves? Whatever the reasons, music purists will find it endlessly rewarding and worthwhile to grab a copy of his latest melodic odyssey.
Ξ From the wrenching opener “Stones From the Riverbed” (“Silently tracing the cracks through the chaos”), to “Waking Up the Dead” (“I wanna dance on fire and be born again), through the closing title track (“I am coming to life/Light is breaking through”), Matthew Perryman Jones rhapsodizes rousing lyrics wrapped within a filmic musical flare equaled by few composers today. MPJ’s songwriting acumen could easily be used as a musical template to demonstrate how less can be so much more. Land of the Living sounds cinematic and slowly worms its way inside your brain, feasts upon your emotions and ultimately burrows down into your soul. If you can resist this record you may want to reassess your musical edification, or at the very least, check to see if you still have a pulse.
Ξ An arresting opener, “Stones From the Riverbed” stole my breath the first time I heard it and still sweeps me up in its current each time I listen. There are some songs that resonate so deeply they feel as if they are giving voice to something deep in my soul. By articulating those things, they come to life and carry life-changing potential. “Stones From the Riverbed” is one of those songs.
Ξ The layering in this song is incredible. The sheer force of its 3–minute crescendo is enough to make it unforgettable. But on top of that, MPJ’s voice and lyrics lend the song a gut–level authenticity that makes it almost tangible. “Stones” is a song about what it means to work things out, about entering the pain and darkness within in order to come through on the other side. The words he chooses and the way he sings them–it’s almost like you can feel the words, run your fingers over them and feel their weight in your hand as if they were stones. His rich tenor punctuates lines like these with a soul–stirring bravado, “Looking away to a violent sky / There’s a deep, dark river rising on the inside.”
Ξ He sings his words as a poet would read his, allowing the sounds and rhythms to come to the fore. And his lyrics are certainly poetic. Sometimes it feels cheapening to quote lyrics in isolation from the music behind them and the voice that sings them. With MPJ, though, the lyrics often stand on their own as poetry. Take the two lines above, for instance. Notice all the alliteration in the second line, the repeated long “i” sounds across both lines (“violent,” “sky,” “river,” “rising,” “inside”). The heavy accents on “deep, dark river rising” is Hopkins–esque and contributes to the song’s palpable, earthy and dramatic feel.
Ξ The violent sky doesn’t let up in this song, but there is a glimpse of hope as the song decrescendos: “And the stones in the city walls / Pulled from the riverbed.” It’s a multi-layered metaphor–within the confines of the song, the stones can represent sorrow or pain, and so the implication is that working through those things will make you stronger. But it’s also drawing on the Old Testament story of the Israelites crossing the River Jordan on the way to the Promised Land. After the miraculous parting of the Jordan, a representative from each of the twelve tribes of Israel were told to carry a stone from the still-dry riverbed so that they could remember and tell their children and have their children tell theirs this miracle God had done for them. These weren’t small stones, and this was no small miracle or an insignificant city. Borrowing on this story, these final lines in “Stones From the Riverbed” carry more weight. This working through, these stones are not easily moved. But once they are, by God’s grace, they can become visceral monuments to the very real ways He brought us through.
Ξ It’s a song that keeps me coming back time and time again, but it’s also one that has prompted me to turn off my stereo, to acknowledge what I need to work through, to cry the tears I need to cry and to “pray for light.”
|Matthew Perryman Jones — Land Of The Living (2012)|