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'In Vein'   

-  Label: 'Saved By Radio Records'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: 'February, 2009'

Our Rating:
It’s been a long time coming, but Canadian singer-songwriter, Lorrie Matheson, finally returns with his follow up to 2004’s ‘One Dime At A Dime. With producer, Jay Crocker, in tow for the first time, it’s clear he hasn’t been wasting time. ‘In Vein’ sees Matheson pushing the boundaries a little harder, and the pay-off is in creating something that rises above his influences to create something different to the usual singer-songwriter fare.

Largely gone is the power-pop of the first two albums, to be replaced with rich acoustic textures layered with unusual loops which bleed in and out of the tracks almost at will. Opening track, ‘Hollow Wind’ is a prime example of the way Matheson negotiates the delicate balancing between melody and sonic experimentalism, evoking comparisons to Wilco, but equally when things are stripped down to just voice and guitar, things are no less stunning. As the album unfolds and you think you’ve got him pegged, Matheson shows you how wrong you are by surprising with, to choose two examples, the orchestral lounge-pop of ‘Don’t Let This Living Kill You’ and the electro beats of ‘Gone.’ As ever with Matheson, the lyrics are well considered and tend towards bittersweet, but it’s clear there’s a heart beating and it’s for real.

Taken together, the album’s nine tracks mark a tangible maturity in Matheson’s writing and it’s testament to his ambition that it all slots together as a coherent whole. Standing up to repeat play, it’s the sound of a musician pushing himself harder, and long may it continue. If you can you make the effort, you’ll be rewarded with an early contender for album of the year.

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  author: Nick Quantrill

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