Emerging from the Baroque splendour of THE BUTTERFLY to flutter around the Palladian classicism of TALK LESS SAY MORE's "Go Lucky", Matthew Jennings (aka Jell) has transformed himself from manic prog-rocker into a very collectable solo artist and producer. Both projects have been based in a prodigious acquaintance with the best of artful popular music. But TALK LESS SAY MORE strips away the tensions and survivalism of band life to reveal songs conceived and recorded in unhurried and very satisfying detail.
Jell's caressing (often double tracked) voice never goes louder than needed for face to face encounter, and it never has to struggle against the accompaniment. Freedom from drummer, in this case, is a distinct bonus. Piano, cello (Graham Carter), guitars, beats, synths can be adjusted to fit, and they are. The results are very arresting.
On first listen. the spaces and the understatement could be heard as unsettling. But once it's clear that there is not going to be a band thundering in to flatten the sensitivity, real pleasure takes over. Tracks seven, eight and nine are gorgeous: "All Dressed Up Like Love", "Someone Else’s Summer" and "Unfledged" make it absolutely clear that this solo project has more than enough invention and surprise to demand wide attention. There's a moment in "Someone Else’s Summer", when a double guitar line spins in, where I became 100% convinced that this was an album to cherish. It's a guitar line that would have been milked for three minutes of TV advert catchiness by any other artist. Jell uses the few seconds' elation to raise the hopeful side of pleasure, and then concludes the song. And so it is throughout the album. Nothing laboured, nothing squandered, nothing outstaying its welcome.
"Pillow Talk" is another highlight. Like many of the songs it seems to be part of a brooding personal inventory. Incidents and moods and detached relationships crowd the lines. It's a lonely record, and even a little unhappy. It goes nowhere near maudlin though, and the direct liveliness of the music keeps refreshing the hope. In its closing track, "Life In Cold Blood", Go Lucky simply quivers with sensuous anticipation of the next, better moment. Bass and guitar parts are masterfully subtle.
The eleven tracks can be downloaded for free (a RADIOHEAD-style voluntary donation is requested) or the CD, with Danny Pig's lovely artwork, can be ordered for just £6.