Christian Matthew is Calling Tom

Some of you may have read my post last year about CHRISTIAN MATTHEW, who I came across in August playing a Sunday lunchtime session at Rooster Fish Brewing up in Watkins Glen. At the time, I called him a “punk rock kid” with a tendency towards lo-fi recordings and four-letter words, all of which was intended as a full-blown compliment.

Christian just sent me a new CD, Calling Tom. The “sleeve” carved out of graph paper indicates a continued fondness for DIY culture – and also connects nicely with my visit to the “David Bowie Is” exhibition last week – but the recordings themselves are considerably more refined than in the past, focusing on properly recorded (and played) acoustic guitar and vocals, serving to highlight Matthew’s songwriting in the process. Opening song “Awkward Hugs And Handshakes” is especially poetic in its chattiness, relaying an impromptu holiday reunion that starts out “down at Patrick’s” and descends into introspection from there. It’s long, it’s heartfelt and it’s hopefully proved cathartic to Matthew.

It also appears to be the opening salvo in a thematic EP all about Christian’s friendship with his title subject, per the opening line to the finale, “Out Near Bonnie’s.” (“Tom, I’m no Elvis, you can give it to me straight. I haven’t got the voice…”) “Out Near Bonnie’s” also features a tinkling piano for additional eery effect – and perhaps because of a lyrical reference to “His Latest Flame,” got me thinking of the Smiths and then their song “Asleep.” (I’m as happy to reference acoustic Replacements. You can’t go wrong with either.)

As of yet,the only song of the five to show up on Christian Matthew’s Bandcamp page is a lovely reworking of the short centerpiece “This Is Tom.” You can listen to it on Bandcamp for free. Slip Christian a $1 tip while you’re at it – and hopefully he’ll have the rest of “Calling Tom” online imminently. [Update: hours after I posted this, the full EP went up on Bandcamp.] As I said last summer, he is the real deal.

[bandcamp width=350 height=522 album=3806652303 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=7137dc track=1982588255]

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June 2021