I got word a couple of months ago that PureMusic was going on hiatus. I had, I guess, four reviews in the can for the site at the time, unfortunately. What I hear now is that they can run three more of them in the last-ever issue, and Dusted was nice enough to pick up this last one, maybe the best of them, of Matt Bauer's The Island Moved in the Storm.
Here's the review, which appeared in Dusted today:
The Island Moved in the Stream
Matt Bauer’s third release is loosely based on a murder story, a young woman found dead in rural Kentucky and not identified for 30 more years. The Brooklyn songwriter spent his childhood in Kentucky and perhaps because of this, he is unusually comfortable with natural imagery and natural sounds. His music sounds transparently simple at first, but later reveals delicately limned metaphors and artfully minimal arrangements.
The “concept” to this album is never overbearing. It may be the murdered girl at the center of “As She Came Out of the Water,” a restrained song whose only hint of sorrow comes in aching forays of pedal steel. Or it may not. In any case, Bauer keeps his voice calm, seldom much over a whisper. There’s no melodrama, just an observer sharp enough to note the shells stirring under his boots in the stream.
The natural world flows around Bauer and his characters, surrounding them, shaping them, spiting them. It is acutely, almost lovingly described, and yet so clearly a cruel place. In “Blacksnake in the Carport,” for instance, a cello throbs under minor lilt and gambol of banjo, muted solace in an indifferent landscape. “Blacksnake in the carport, making for the shadows,” Bauer whispers. “Cut his head off with a hoe, slowly still he travels.”
"As She Came Out of the Water"
Matt on WNYC