There’s been a wealth of psychedelic country flooding the speakers of late, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Adding to this year’s patch of low-valley shimmer is Canadian songwriter James Matthew (De Long) VII. A longtime studio vet and songwriter, he’d originally found his way to the front of the fray with fellow punk tuned pop magnate Ben Cook in No Warning before the pair went on to softer shores with Marvelous Darlings. From there he found himself subsumed into the session life contributing to Tina Turner and Bone Thugs n’ Harmony records all while still popping up on Canada’s finest (Young Guv, Yacht Club, Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn LPs). All sounds like the perfect setup for an alt-country comedown, eh? Well, maybe. After branding himself Blind Matty he shifted to the slide-swapped shimmer of country for Burger Records, eventually dropping the moniker in favor of a tag closer to the name on his government issue.
His debut LP for Canadian powerhouse of psychedelic ephemera Idée Fixe Records sees him crystallize his vision for twang-tinted ramble. The record pulls at classic psych-country touches handed down from Flying Burritos, Country Funk and Mighty Baby while tumbling headlong into the cloud of smoke that surrounds latter day saints like Beachwood Sparks. De Long makes good on his twenty-odd years behind the strings for others, pulling in guest spots here from an enviable gathering of talent – Augie Meyers (Sir Douglas Quintet, Bob Dylan), Daddy Long Legs, Bill Cutler (Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir), John Catfish (Psychic Ills, Nude Party), Sean Dean (The Sadies), and Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (U.S. Girls, MV&EE). The stacked bench pays off with songs that feel lived-in and natural, heartbreaking and melancholy. The record pulls off the heat-shimmer psychedelia bouncing off the blacktop while still feeling like a leathered country classic that could easily stand another twenty years and sound timeless. This is yet another release swooping in at the tail end of 2019, so don’t let the rush to quantify the last eleven months overshadow one of the years’ best.
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