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Matt Hill | My Dark Places EP (Independent)
If you are of an inclination and regularly attend gigs of same, you may well have encountered the name Matt Hill. He's supported Josh Rouse, Chris Mills and Joe Pernice amongst others, and due to his unflinching lyrical approach, has been drawing comparisons with, in particular, Richard Buckner. Vocally though, his phrasing and stylings are more akin to those of Elvis Costello. Considering these names of such luminaries thus far, your interest should have been aroused, surely? Out there, somewhere, are just a clutch of the aptly named Demonstration Product CD's, where Hill, who is still unsigned, breaks hearts as man with acoustic guitar. The beautiful Real Romantic Soul alone should ensure that all rabid consumers of such fare who manage to somehow hear it ?? perhaps on a compilation tape ?? would guarantee the ultra-rare Demonstration Product EP near mythical status. (It's happened before, and recently, as those aware of The Orgone Box story, albeit in the power pop arena, will attest). Two years on, and Hill has returned with another EP, My Dark Places. This time, he is ably assisted in sensitive backing from the combined talents of members of Jackson Sundown, Hired Gun and Anna Kafshi's band ?? all delegates from the burgeoning Manchester country underground. It's all lovely plinky-plonk banjo and twinkling piano motifs, pedal steel and slide, providing Hill's stories of shattered relationships, jealousy and loneliness with a soft, sweet backdrop. The undoubted lyrically thematic highpoint is in Henri, which Hill jokingly introduces in live performance as about 'shagging a kinky posh bird'. Well yes, that is essentially the score, but it's a tale of sado-masochistic sexual horror that belies it's summery melody ?? "She wore her scars like a catwalk queen / She was proud that she'd crossed that line." To paraphrase Neal Casal, that's "real country dark," and wonderfully so. Available now, only from Matt Hill's website .

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001