Published in the Impartial Reporter on 23rd July 2020.
Published in the Impartial Reporter on 09th July 2020.
In a bid to stay sane, entertain and hopefully stay afloat in these uncertain times Matty James decided to make a brand new 10 track acoustic CD available.
Obviously, Matty James being the good guy we all know he is and how the current situation is affecting us all he has decided to not leave anyone behind here so you can simply ‘pay what you like’ for the digital download pre-order and everyone will receive email updates on how the project is coming along and evolving if you sign up to the mailing list. A bit Like a Pledge campaign Should have run its operation but without anyone stealing the money and Matty keeping it in house. There will be CDs available, plus exclusive Lyric Art (just one of each song).
Matty also wants to clarify, this is Not the new ‘album proper’ he’s been working on. He will now wait until the pandemic is in the rearview mirror before that gets done. The songs are flowing and if you are in a position to get involved then Matty James is looking forward to seeing where it goes. To run along with this he will also do a celebratory live stream online gig.
So whats going on with these here Isolation #tape recordings then I hear you ask? Well, Matt being the multi-instrumentalist and all-round one-man-band we know and love has also got his fellow Dogs partner Gary Pennick in to play some Guitars and add another flavour to the backing vocals. Whilst its a snapshot into how a guy works when writing this is well above what one might call a bedroom demo there’s no Tascam four-track going on here as ‘Dangerous To Myself’ displays as the opener in a really upbeat talk of the times with big acoustic open chords boxcar style drums and a howling harmonica.
There’s a change of pace for the Americana and gentle almost balladry of ‘Stop Cryin’ (It’s Only The End Of The World)’ which has a really good chorus that leads to Mr Pennick’s (cough cough) soulful guitar picking (great arrangement).
Of course, this will appeal to Dogs fans and people who have a passing interest in the likes of Classic Quireboys as ‘Uncertain Times’ borrows of the good and the greats that have paved this path long before Matty His fellow Irish roots rocker Ricky Warwick did his best work when he picked up the acoustic guitar and did his thing and there is some of that here. Matty doesn’t just lean on the past he just pours a touch in his own mix and no doubt appreciated their offerings and learnt from those great records if it’s in yer DNA its in yer DNA. Love the simplicity of just writing a good bloody tune and ‘Say Nothing’ is just that.
‘Top Of The Hill’ heads down to the delta for some cotton picking Stonesy blues Americana. It’s a great mix of styles but ultimately the fit is totally cohesive and the songs flow really nicely with songs like ‘Someone’ reminding me of when Rod the Mod used to be able to play Rock and Roll in the late 70s when he was Atlantic crossing its got that vibe and Matty has nailed those Bass guitar fills and runs. But to wrap it all up its a return to the ’50s and ’60s and just writing a simple song but making it as good as it can be just like the Everleys or Buddy Holly did. Great work Mr Cassidy these songs are some of the best you’ve done ever and I can’t wait to hear the album proper. Top songwriter, top performer and Topman. Go check it out!
Author: Dom Daley
One of the benefits of lockdown, and yes there have been some, is that for those artists who can work and record remotely we’ve been treated to some very rich, new and original material which might never have been written or recorded if they’d had their normal commitments. ‘Isolation Tapes’ is one such little gem which we have Covid-19 to thank for.
Boasting 10 new songs, as the title suggests, entirely written and recorded during isolation this release must only consolidate Matty’s ability as a heartfelt singer-songwriter – a path which he continues to walk with some style in addition to playing bass in Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour. Admirably defying easy musical categorisation (always a bonus for those of us who like our music mixed), his solo output continues to offer much for fans of raw acoustic music in all of it’s most boisterously beautiful forms from swinging rockabilly through outlaw country, blues and rock to rogue folk.
Highlights (and there are many on this album) include the upbeat opener ‘Dangerous to Myself’ which continues Matty’s ability to have you singing along with the chorus before you know it (a regular feature of his work), the swinging and rolling ‘Guilty Party’, the emotionally raw ‘Say Nothing’, the joyous ‘Lonely Kind’ which will lift you up if you’re feeling down and put a smile back on your face, the sing-a-long-with-Matty ‘Someone’ and the haunting and intimate closer ‘No One Knows We’re Here’.
As a multi-instrumentalist Matty plays acoustic guitar, bass, drums, percussion and harmonica on this outing accompanied by Gary Pennick, his band mate from Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour, on guitars and backing vocals both of which always tastefully enhance without detracting from the quality of the song writing.
The album manages to sound both familiar and new, contains songs which are instant and others which will grow on you with every listen, and which would sound equally good played on an acoustic guitar in an intimate gig or played in full band electric mode with the house lights on and an audience on it’s feet.
‘Isolation Tapes’ is big on sentiment, it swings, it shouts, it will move you, and leave you with a few new friends in the form of songs you will want to listen to and sing along with badly glass in hand, again and again.
And if ‘Isolation Tapes’ leaves you wanting more, look no further than ‘4 x 4 x 1’ – Matty and Gary’s recent side project EP of country-influenced rock covers, played in their own inimitable style, joined by Simon Hanson (Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour and Squeeze) on drums. Starting with a boisterous cover of George Jones’ early ‘60’s Honky Tonk ‘The Race Is On’ followed by The Stones’ country-influenced ‘Dear Doctor’, ‘Ronnie Lane’s ‘How Come’ and EP closer Tom Waits’ ‘Old Shoes (and Picture Postcards)’. Hats tipped and glasses raised to both some great playing and exceptional taste in music.
The ‘Isolation Tapes’ and ‘4 x 4 x 1’ are both available on Bandcamp
In the beginning of 2020 no-one could have foreseen what was waiting for us. The plague called COVID-19 changed our lives and forced us stay inside our homes. Some people could utilise this time. One of them is Matty James Cassidy, who has used this time for writing a whole acoustic album called The Isolation Tapes.
I might be a bit biased to review this newest release of Matty James Cassidy, a Northern-Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, as I am a big fan of his music. But then again, I guess most music critics (which I am not, as my knowledge of music is minuscule) love to write about stuff they appreciate.
I have listened to this acoustic album, The Isolation Tapes, a lot since the official release date, the 22nd of May. On that day Matty arranged so called Social Listening Party of the album. And what was that: participants started listening the album on his Bandcamp site, and then we could comment, ask questions and discuss about the songs through social media. That was fun. In fact the idea of writing something about the album was born during that listening experience.
cd cover small
The album’s cover image is based on a photography by Ian Ladlow.
Usually I have to listen a song several times until it unveils its secrets. So I didn’t expect too much. But after listening (and also commenting) the album, I had four song names written on a paper. Those songs were ‘Guilty Party’, ‘Say Nothing’, ‘No Town For Heroes’ and ‘Someone’. After listening the album several times after that, I could have added some other song names on that piece of paper.
’Dangerous To Myself’ and ‘Guilty Party’ are good opening songs. ‘Dangerous To Myself’ has an easily digested melody and ‘Guilty Party’ has a very catchy chorus. Because of that chorus I had scribbled the name of the song down on the paper on that joint listening event.
Matty has mentioned that the third song, ‘Stop Cryin’ (It’s Only The End Of The World)’ was the first song he wrote on that week when all these new songs started flooding in. It’s a beautiful, slow ballad. I didn’t mark this song at a first pass, but the more I am listening to it, the more I have started liking it.
There is only one old, but re-recorded, song on the album. That is ‘Uncertain Times’, which was released in 2013 on the EP with the same name. It would have been a great alternative album name, but as it happens, it has been used already seven years ago. No wonder that Matty decided to include it on this album that was born in these uncertain times.
‘Say Nothing’, one of my four picks from the first round, is a beautiful song accompanied just with a guitar and harmonica. In ‘Lonely Kind’ you can hear a short lap steel guitar solo from Gary Pennick. Yes, Matty’s bandmate from Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour is on lead guitar on the album (and he is also singing the background vocals). Matty plays acoustic guitar and everything else you hear on the record. I have understood that the following song, ‘Top Of The Hill’, is the favourite song of both men.
The third song that I had marked was ‘No Town For Heroes’. I commented the song by saying that it might be my favourite one. And this is how it sounds:
The second last song on the album is ‘Someone’, which became one of my favourite tunes as well on that evening. This morning when I typed this review, I realized that I had it, or precisely its catchy, flowing chorus, in my head when I woke up. (The chorus of ‘Guilty Party’ has also made an appearance into my head…) Well, this is the chorus for ‘Someone’. I believe tha this would be a good sing-along thing at the gigs:
We all need someone, to believe someone
To make you understand you can be someone
We all need someone
To believe someone
To make you understand
You’re not the only one
The last song is an extremely beautiful and wistful ‘No One Knows We’re Here’, which is absolutely perfect for Matty’s deep, soft voice. Such a beautiful song, with very limited accompaniment. It is a perfect closing song, in fact it’s the only possible song to close the album.
The Isolation Tapes is a beautiful record. I cannot pick a favourite song as you might tell according to the text I have written above. Matty James Cassidy is a very talented and creative musician, who has a capability to produce great songs apparently with no bigger effort. Remember, this album was not supposed to happen! He has been working on the next “proper” album. While waiting for it, I highly recommend purchasing this one.
And by the way, if I had to pick one song, only one song, it might be ‘No One Knows We’re Here’…
A bit info where to get the record after the picture.
Text and portrait of Matty © Katriina Etholén; excerpt from ‘Someone’ © Matty James Cassidy.
Songs on The Isolation Tapes:
1. Dangerous To Myself
2. Guilty Party
3. Stop Cryin’ (It’s Only The End Of The World)
4. Uncertain Times
5. Say Nothing
6. Lonely Kind
7. Top Of The Hill
8. No Town For Heroes
10. No One Knows We’re Here
The Isolation Tapes is available to download from Bandcamp and you can also pre-order the CD there.
If you need something to cheer you up MATTY JAMES CASSIDY has just the thing in the shape of 4x4x1, an EP of country/blues/rock covers. He opens with George Jones’ ‘The Race Is On’ – it’s amazing how much fun misery can be, isn’t it? The misery continues with ‘Dear Doctor’ courtesy of Messrs. Jagger and Richards and a much less mannered version of the song. Ronnie Lane’s ‘How Come’ is a long-time favourite here at Folking Acres and Matty does it full justice before finally turning to Tom Waits and ‘Old Shoes (And Picture Postcards)’. No new ground has been broken here; no great insights expounded – it’s just bloody good singalong fun.