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Review: 'Matthew Edwards & The Unfortunates'
'in The Birmingham Poets'   

-  Label: 'December Square'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '12.4.19.'

Our Rating:
This is the second album by Matthew Edwards since he returned to his native Birmingham from San Francisco in 2014. As you'd expect he is of course signed to a French label December Square as the French get the sort of literate music The Unfortunates make better than the English do these days.

This album is also the first of the current contenders for best new album from Birmingham this year in my pile and as such is obviously part of the current Birmingham rock renaissance.

The album opens with Beside Myself opens with a slow plaintive song that sounds like it could have been on one of David Bowies last albums, as Matthew says he wants to tell the truth while all the time being beside himself it's beguiling and the guitars do have a good amount of angst in them.

Bad Design asks questions of the grand design's generation and the plastic sheen they put on everything with nice chiming slightly jangly guitars and a thumping bass to carry it along.

Anthony Bold is a poem as much as a lyric telling the tale of Dear Anthony Bold and what he gets up to and then wonders why he does it at all over this quite bucolic backing that's more black country or rural Warwickshire than the mean streets of Birmingham as poor Anthony's story unfolds.

Desire Is a Witch is almost a celebration of coming to understand how desire works and being happy to know you're now mature enough to reflect on how your desires come and go over the still gentle folk rock. The Sons Of Marxist Fathers is my favorite song on the album a plaintive tale of the kids hanging outside while dad goes and pontificates again to get the word out how you might need to get away, well yes I certainly get where it's coming for as the gentle music slowly builds to this great honking mad musical explosion that is very Henry Cow in it's feel and with the regular involvement of Fred Frith and Dagmar Krause with The Unfortunates that is no surprise.

The Birmingham Poets is a good almost poem like song about well those Poets and who your throwing you lot in with those good old Birmingham Poets. California, Can You Wait asks the question of do they want him back that almost feels a bit like The Divine Comedy it asks all sorts of other questions it's a very cool chamber pop song.

Our Boldest Daughter is one of the songs on the album that sounds like it has a Nick Drake feel to it and I love the bit about his daughter reading Ulysses and speaking in parenthesis this is a very beautiful gentle love song for his daughter.

The Rag Trade is a wistful song about the loss of the trade and various poets lives that features the almost disembodied voice of Dagmar Krause's backing vocals as she was never there as they were never in those satanic mills or with those looms a wonderful song.

The album ends with We Think The World of You that is almost choral with Dagmar and the other backing singers repeating the title along with Matthew it's almost a hymnal and a lovely way to close a very cool and involving album that will grow on you with repeated listening as it already has with me.

Find out more at www.matthewedwardsandtheunfortunates.com www.december-square.com
  author: simonovitch

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