Dai Jeffries wrote review for Folking.com..

Matthews Southern Comfort – that’s a name we haven’t heard for a while and, to be honest, I’m not sure why we’re hearing it now. If you remember the MSC that had their greatest hit with ‘Woodstock’ featuring Gordon Huntley’s pedal steel – this isn’t them. If you remember Iain’s first solo album featuring Britain’s folk-rock illuminati – no not them, either. Like A Radio is a damn good Iain Matthews solo album with three old tracks revisited – Second Spring’s sublime ‘Darcy Farrow’ (on piano this time) and ‘Something In The Way She Moves’ (a superb reinterpretation)  and Carole King’s ‘To Love’ which originally opened Later That Same Year. Plus a good band.

Iain certainly isn’t looking back here. He’s supported by three Dutch musicians: multi-instrumentalist Bart Jan Baartmans, who also co-produced, Bart de Win on keys and acoustic guitarist Eric Devries. There is a resonator guitar but not a pedal steel in sight. These are new Matthews song, often written with recent collaborators, Clive Gregson, Egbert Derix, and his three bandmates.

There are knowing touches like the quote from ‘Good Vibrations’ in ‘Chasing Rainbows’, an anthem to California co-written with de Win but for the most part these songs concern modern issues and are written in modern terms. The line “working the room like a bitch in heat” in ‘A Heartless Night’ certainly attracted my attention. The opener, ‘The Thought Police’, built on a simple acoustic guitar with a plethora of strange things, is a defiant individual’s stance in the post-truth surveillance society and Iain returns to the vicissitudes of modern life in ‘The Age Of Isolation’.

There seems to be a number of toxic relationships beginning with the title track but Iain has lost none of his melodic and lyrical skill. ‘Bits And Pieces’ matches a confoundedly catchy melody to clever words and ‘Been Down So Long’ begins with the effect of Cortez’ arrival on the indigenous people: “we’ve been down so long it looks like up to me”.

As I said, Like A Radio is a good damn Iain Matthews album and Baartmans’ electric guitar does echo the band of the 70s while de Win’s keyboards bring a new sound. While Iain looks a touch haggard in his cover photo his voice has lost none of its power, just matured like a fine wine and those harmonies are as sweet as ever.

Dai Jeffries

Review on ctrl.Alt.Country..

MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT “Like A Radio” (MIG-Music)

(4****)

Met hun weergaloze cover van Joni Mitchells “Woodstock” scoorden Iain Matthews en zijn maats van Southern Comfort in 1970 een wereldwijde hit. Meteen ook hun enige, want korte tijd later verliet Matthews het schip. Met Plainsong en diverse andere groepen en vooral ook solo toonde hij zich in de jaren daarna bijzonder actief. En in onze platenkast is dan ook zo menig een Matthews-werkstuk terug te vinden. Zo ook “Kind Of New”, het album waarmee hij in 2010 Matthews Southern Comfort nieuw leven inblies. In een andere bezetting als weleer wou hij komaf maken met “some unfinished business”. Iets wat zo goed uitpakte, dat er nu met “Like A Radio” ook al een vervolgstuk is.

Met z’n Nederlandse collega’s Bart Jan Baartmans (diverse gitaren, mandoline, sitar, bouzouki, bas en banjo), Bart de Win (toetsen, accordeon en backing vocals) en Eric Devries (akoestische gitaar en backing vocals) brengt Matthews op die nieuwe in totaal vijftien nummers. Het gros daarvan schreef hij zelf, al dan niet samen met anderen. Tussendoor is er echter ook ruimte voor een stel welgemikte covers. Van het bij het legendarische Canadese folkduo Ian & Sylvia geleende “Darcy Farrow” bijvoorbeeld, van “To Love” van Carole King ook, van Michael Fracasso’s “Right As Rain” en van James Taylors “Something In The Way She Moves”.

De echte krenten in de pap zijn echter vooral een aantal eigen originelen. Openingsnummer “The Thought Police” is er gelijk zo eentje. Dat op beklemmende wijze de confrontatie met het thema geleefd en voortdurend gecontroleerd worden aangaande kleinood is wat ons betreft een echt toppertje. En dat geldt al helemaal voor “The Age Of Desolation”. Dat ook muzikaal aardig desolaat aandoende juweeltje is een onverholen uithaal naar een tijd waarin “nothing seems to matter but that telephone’s vibration”. Een waarschuwing waar we met z’n allen gewoonweg niet omheen kunnen.

Ook héél erg mooi: de zachte folkrocker “Bits And Pieces”, die met name opvalt door zijn oog voor het schrille contrast tussen de drukte van de grote stad en de eigen (ziels)rust. En dan hadden we het nog niet over het misschien wel allermooiste nummer van allemaal. Dat is wat ons betreft zonder ook maar de minste twijfel het op speelse wijze op de daarbij voortdurend vervagende scheidingslijn tussen pop en folk openlijk aan ons aller toekomst twijfelende “Crystals On The Glass”.

Matthews had als u het ons vraagt dik gelijk, toen hij voor z’n Matthews Southern Comfort revival zijn heil zocht in z’n Wahlheimat Nederland. Veel beter gezelschap dan dat van gelijkgestemde geesten Baartmans, de Win en Devries had hij zich daarbij immers niet kunnen wensen. Dat mogen we na twee platen van dit kaliber wel stellen, toch?

And another review on Fatea Magazine

Here’s what Rory Stanbridge wrote for Fatea Magazine: “.. “Chasing The Rainbows” is an ideal that Iain has been trying to accomplish musically for many years and on the basis of this new offering, I think it is fair to say he has found his rainbow. This is a beautifully crafted album from a superb musician and songwriter! Long may he continue to make his music…” read more here

New single out now!

Here’s the single from the upcoming Matthews Southern Comfort album ‘Like A Radio’.. here’s ‘Bits and Pieces’..

 

Live review… Altcountryforum

Sjoerd Punter wrote this review for Altcountryforum.nl at the end of our 5 day tour of the Netherlands.. Iain Matthews still has the voice..

Here’s the translation in English:

MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT

@ De Rozenknop. Eindhoven.

November 24th. 2017

The Englishman who settled here in the Netherlands some eighteen years ago, is well known for his work with groups such as Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort and Plainsong.
He came to be known as the the British answer to the glorious harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Matthews quit the business in 1984 but was talked back into it two years later by Robert Plant. So far he built up a catalogue of some twenty five solo-albums. He revived the band Matthews Southern Comfort in 2010 with Bart de Win on keyboards, BJ Baartmans on guitar and Elly Kellner on vocals. Matthews Southern Comfort has now re-invented itself yet again. Still with de Win and Baartmans but now with Songwriter Eric Devries Replacing Kellner. A good catch. That proved to be so on Fridaynight November 24th in musicvenue de Rozenknop in Eindhoven. Matthews and his men performed with noticable pleasure and treated us to a a very high standard performance. The 71-year old Brit proved to be singing as well as ever.
It was the last of a series of shows in different parts of the Netherlands. The shows were try-out shows to prepare for the upcoming tour in the UK, starting on December 1st at The Great British Folk Festival in coastal Skegness. “You are the Guinea-pigs”, Matthews joked. With the new Line-up they recorded a new album to be released in February 2018. It’s called ‘Like A Radio’ and will be released by German label MIG records and Suburban in the Netherlands.

In Eindhoven Matthews Southern Comfort played us six songs from the new album, including the single ‘Bits And Pieces’ as well as ‘Crystals On The Glass’ a beautiful song Matthews wrote for his daughter. The emphasis, as was in the old days still lies on the vocals. Especially Eric Devries and Iain Matthews propelled each other to great heights, while Baartmans, while de Win expertly took care of the instrumental tapestry, but also joined in singing. A wonderful wall of sound. Never before was Iain Matthews backed by such a great band.
The show started with ‘Letting The Mad Dogs Lie’ from the 2010 ‘Kinda New’ album. Before the break we went back in time, back to the renowned album ‘Later That Same Year’ from 1970. This album featured ‘Woodstock’ a song written by Joni Mitchell but covered by Matthews. He wrote a new version of the song called ‘Age Of Isolation’ that will appear on the new album. After the break they also played ‘Woodstock’ at the very end of the show. A couple of ‘Howling Wolves’ roared in the audience on hearing old songs like ‘Mare Take Me Home’ (1970) and ‘ Darcy Farrow’ (1969). Encores just had to follow. Those were ‘The Way Things Are’ from 2010 and ‘Road To Ronderlin’ (1970). Again a great night at De Rozenknop that keeps evolving as an alternative cultural venue.