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Matt Keating | Tiltawhirl (Poptones)
It's been four years since Matt Keating's last album, Killjoy; years spent tirelessly self-promoting his literate, tuneful but unfashionable brand of pop in search of a deal after the demise of Alias Records. Come 2001 and, thanks to an upswing in interest in quality songwriters and the foresight of Poptones, Keating is back from the brink with Tiltawhirl which will, I can confidently predict, be considered by many his best album to date. Window Booth and It's a Shame survive from the demos Keating was touting in 98 alongside another thirteen tracks. Successful, Man Overboard and Believe It are sprightly and biting, Executioner a Dylanesque folk beauty. Tucked away in the second half, It's A Shame is currently topping an imaginary singles chart dictated by talent and the lilting Beautiful glides over a subtle organ and upright bass backing. If there is to be a criticism of Tiltawhirl it is the same one that can levelled at any of his albums ?? it is a little overlong. With its short opener Sunday Song, the brief, folky Not Today and the acoustic closer Bad Things Will Happen Tiltawhirl doesn't exactly outstay its welcome, but does ask a lot of the listener when considering the volume of lyrics that its songs invariably contain. However the balance of up-beat, radio-friendly pop and reflective narrative songs here is pretty much right, the arrangements spot-on. A welcome return.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001