Record of the Day – “This House Of Mine” by Matt Lax and Nearly Beloved

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“This House Of Mine” from This House Of Mine by Matt Lax And Nearly Beloved. Released: 2015.

My job here is to turn people on to the best in new and old music and that is what is going on here today. This song/Album is close to perfection, the arrangements are beautiful, it’s like your taking in a movie of images and breath taking panoramas of the American West. The guitar picking and fiddle will blow you away.

This is such a cool song, I thought I would include some more info about the Album , that I received from KG Music Press.

MATT LAX AND NEARLY BELOVED TO RELEASE THIS HOUSE OF MINE (MAY 2015)
An Eleven-Track Album Exploring Loss, Discovery, Sacrifice and Redemption

Mill Valley, CA March 2015–The prevalent theme that runs through This House Of Mine, Matt Lax & Nearly Beloved’s 4th CD, is that of souls – souls lost, souls found, souls sacrificed, souls that search for redemption and brave souls that briefly ‘stir together with the wind’ as an illusive and temporal reward for navigating life’s perils with both your soul and you soul mate intact. This House of Mine’s plush soundscape of guitars, fiddle, banjo and bass, rich harmony and intimate vocals explore empty rooms and mythic landscapes where souls are either ‘…seeking to be soothed’, as in “Sing Me Along” or hoping for a peaceful resting place, as in the palm wine music inspired “Sing A Song For Us”. In the songs “Awakening”, and “What The Morning’s For”, there is ample expression of love that is to be savored and succored, while the title of “In This World” hints of reward in a world beyond – In a song about keeping the spark of love alive while we erstwhile ‘serve all mankind’.

Such unbridled altruism may seem like a departure to fans familiar with Nearly Beloved, but close listening of their earlier efforts reveals several examples of simple and honest love songs nestled between some of Matt’s more satirical and stylized musings. The band’s last 2 CD’s, “A Hurricane & A Tumbleweed”, and “Where’s Bob”, are indeed more adventuresome both in musical and thematic range; while “Wanderer’s Dream” and “This House Of Mine” bookend the band’s 22 year span with song selections and arrangements that are more unified in feeling, theme, and sound.

Finger style guitar and frailing banjo are the musical mainstays of “House Of Mine” as the songs invoke not only American blues, country, soul, and folk music, but South African township and West African palm wine music as well. Musical coherence for these far-flung styles is achieved simply through the omission of drums and percussion. “As pickers, we’re often changing how and what we play to accommodate drums at rowdy club venues after doing a string of café and small venue gigs without drums”, says Lax. “When it came time to record this CD, we wanted all the intricacy of the guitars and banjo to be heard, and we wanted the integrity of each song’s style to live uncompromised by any choice of cadence by the drummer”.

While Matt’s own singing and guitar work have never been better represented than in this collection of songs, the influence of guitar originators like Mississippi John Hurt, Joseph Spence, Doc Watson, Nick Drake, palm wine godfather SE Rogie and township master Ray Phiri are lurking just below the fret board throughout the CD. Lax’s knowledge and respect for these masters is echoed aptly by his band mates Erik Pearson (guitars, banjo, upright bass), Michael Stadler (guitars, fiddle, mandolin, cello), and rock-solid bassist Paul Olguin. Stadler, a highly accomplished guitarist in his own right (he can be heard featured on a compilation of style innovators called ‘Claw Hammer Guitar’), while Pearson’s long love affair with claw hammer banjo style has made him a mainstay with San Francisco’s old timey innovators The Crooked Jades, and led to his tenure as the banjo teacher to the late Warren Hellman, founder of The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

Most of the CD tracks feature just the four band members recorded live over two days at Laughing Tiger Studios in San Rafael. Subsequent vocals, horns, cello, accordion and penny whistle were added to the basic tracks slowly over the course of the next year. “It Just Happens” features a vocal duet with Loralee Christensen and Mike Rinta’s Memphis-inspired horn arrangements. “Astronauts & Fishermen” is augmented by Richie Lawrence’s accordion and Adam Beach’s penny whistle, featured on a fine breakdown with Stadler’s claw hammer guitar as they linger momentarily on the traditional Irish tune “The Kesh” before returning to the song’s African-inspired 6/8 meter. Electric guitar is supplied mostly by Erik Pearson, whose shimmering tremolo-laced sound fills the soundscape with George Harrison-inspired arpeggios and Richard Thompson-like jabs. Lax’s sole electric guitar effort on “My Soul’s Intention” is reminiscent of both Ray Phiri and Chet Atkins, no doubt from years of listening to both Mahlatini and the Mahatella Queens and The Louvin Brothers. “I find twang everywhere”, surmises Lax. The more pop-inspired tracks are “Going Out Of Her Mind”, “Without You”, and the title track, “This House Of Mine”. Here the band are at their most straight-forward with songs of unrequited love and in “House Of Mine”, the sum of one’s life revealed in the metaphor of a house that is easily afforded but unfit for companionship.

There is a fossil-encrusted image underlying a photo of Matt on the CD’s inset. It’s from a vacation photo Matt took of a table top at Deetjen’s Inn in Big Sur, California. The image speaks not only of the temporal worlds that This House Of Mine explores, but the overlay of lives that fill our conscious thoughts. Another thought resonates as well. “We may well be fossils in the way we approach making music. We want to make a complete musical statement that you can live an hour of your life with, hopefully more than just once”. If people will grant themselves the time, there is a big payoff to be had by listening to this CD.

This House of Mine CD Release Party June 13th at Rancho Nicasio!
Next Show:
Nearly Beloved Trio
Matt Lax, Michael Stadler, Erik Pearson
Friday April 3
Cafe Trieste in Berkeley
2500 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley, California (510) 548-5198

Nearly Beloved.com

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Scott

From Pittsburgh, now in Florida, Cool Canadian artist wife , 4 great kids and two granddaughters!! I'm a lucky guy!

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