Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
2008-10-24Commenting on his website, Matt Hales (aka Aqualung) writes: “I nearly called this album Heart Songs, because that’s sort of what they are...There’s something about the spirit of these recordings that feels like the start of something new. I don’t know exactly where it will take me, but it will be very interesting to find out.” What the singer/songwriter called the album instead is Words and Music and for good reason for what we find from this latest Aqualung collection are songs that are stripped down musically and yet heart-felt lyrically. This is no more noticeable than on the opener, "7 Keys." Hales sings: "Darling believe / You’re closer than anyone has even been / Oh baby don’t leave me alone / I'm yours for eternity / You hold the seven keys to my soul." An equally compelling tune is the lush and beautiful "On My Knees" - as the lyrics convey a focus on forgiveness and a yearning to make things right. The other standout track is the eloquent "When I Finally Get My Own Place," that paints life in relationship as a roller-coaster of emotions. Aside from the aforementioned, however, the majority of the album leaves the listener wanting something more - perhaps a little energy to combat the slow meandering of most of the songs. On the Paul Simon cover, "Slip Sliding Away," Hales finds some of this energy but the rendition as a whole doesn't seem to do justice to the original - a nearly perfect song that probably needs not be redone. So, while Hales may very well offer his heart, what is mostly lacking here are graceful, compelling, and beautiful melodies that will capture the heart of his listeners as well. For this, Aqualung fans may have to wait for something new or search someplace else. ~ Reviewed by Jeff Bouma
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