First Glances - Matt Norris & The Moon
By: Rob Gannon
British folk music can be many things, but it’s usually (and stereotypically) categorised by gentle acoustics, minstrel-like storytelling and love of combing real ale out of beards. On the surface, Edinburgh quintet Matt Norris & The Moon would thus seem to tick a lot of the boxes, but looks can be deceptive.
Frontman Matt Norris sports a reasonable growth of facial fuzz in the band’s press shots so we’re covered there; where the five-piece stand on the booze we’re less sure, but being Scottish we assume this is pretty safe ground. In terms of the tunes however, “Eyes Of A Storm” is also quick to conform to type, skipping round the Maypole handkerchiefs waving. Lively trumpet gives the more contemporary “Roots Below” an exultant backbone, and there’s earthy imagery aplenty to be found during the urgent yet woozy “Shadow From The Sun” – Helen Cookson‘s infectious flute the icing on this impressive indie-folk cut.
It’d be churlish to say it, but, so far, so what. The above could be and is true of many of today’s undeniably competent, mega-unit shifting outfits. Yet, in debut EP closer “The Shallows”, Matt Norris & The Moon have an ace up their green sleeves. Eclipsing the competition in a single leap, it’s a track built on atmospheric accordion drone and slow-drawn strings that immediately recall the creepy soundtrack ambience of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – the band’s less sparse accompaniment serving only to widescreen the effect. Ultimately breaking from monotonous vocal harmonies into a delicate exercise in finger plucking and thoughtful lyricism, one can’t but help be impressed with the balancing act achieved.
Further focus in this direction, combined with the band’s reverence for true folk and it’ll only be a matter of time before they have a major, distinctive record on their hands.
The This Kingdom EP is released digitally and on CD on the 18th May 2012 on 17 Seconds Records. The band’s tour to coincide with this release sees them taking in various Scottish dates along with ones in Sunderland and London.