Matthew Carlson

Matthew Carlson & The Pantones
Memory Is All (2004, Phonophore)(3.8/5)

Judging from the quaint album cover I had expected a mellow, dreamy LP. Memory Is All is a relatively safe mid-tempo record. Carlson wields his mildly John Denver-esque vocals and weaves traditional melancholic tales of heartbreak, loss and dogs dying (ok, the last being a bit exaggerative). I also heard a smidgeon of James Taylor in the vox. A few of the tracks, most notably “Better By The Day”, featured swell backing vocals/harmonies. There are sprinkles of violin, harmonica and organ throughout, adding a needed touch of variety to the mix. Taken song for song the album is not bad but after a second listen I began to realize that many of the songs were interchangeable. Perhaps throwing a few more upbeat numbers into the mix would have spiced this one up a bit. “Pioneer Road” was probably the most jaunty track on the album but even that hardly picked up beyond a horse trot. A little bit more atmosphere and diversity and you would be able to neatly set this album aside the 2 most recent Wilco albums. The potential is there for wider recognition next time around. Keep at it, gang.

-Beat 5/4/05

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