- 16 Feb 18
Solid debut from hotly tipped singer-songwriter.
After two EPs (Feels Like Morning and Sunshine), a series of high-profile support slots with Rag n’ Bone Man, and some BBC Radio 2 love, singer-songwriter River Matthews has unleashed his debut LP, Imogen. Arriving on a wave of acclaim and goodwill, it is – to quote Matthews’ own song – a pretty thing.
Mathews has a beguiling voice, but it takes a few minutes nonetheless to warm to the Surrey musician’s approach. With their uncomfortable echoes of Paolo Nutini’s brand of jazz-pop, early tracks ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Feels Like Morning’ are pleasant if unremarkable. Thankfully, the more wistful likes of ‘Pretty Thing’ and ‘Never’ are a major improvement. Indeed, when he slips into alternative soul mode, Matthews recalls the lovelorn darkness of Roy Orbison; his haunting voice sounds incredible on ‘Bye Bye Bird’ and ‘Stars’.
Imogen occasionally feels like something of a tease, with its moments of tantalising quality. But the album improves substantially as it progresses. The record reaches its zenith with a cover of The Animals’ ‘House Of The Rising Sun’, which boasts an absolutely rip-roaring crescendo.