Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley
Soul | R&B
Even when actively searching for new and upcoming releases, this record nearly slipped past me. I’d not heard a word about it, but somehow that doesn’t surprise me. Matt Corby has always been a dark horse, content to do his own thing at his own pace. He’s always come across as an artist in its purest sense, making music purely for the love of music rather than to garner a fanbase or tap into some cultural zeitgeist. His new record continues that same path, but showing a subtle development from his debut, feeling more at ease and comfortable with his slow-burning soul style. This is not an album that you “get” first listen, it takes time to brew and have its full effect on the listener. It’s not the kind of immediate soul that we’re used to, it’s not made for exuberant dancefloors or lustful encounters, rather for cozy nights in.
The synths do a great job at capturing the iconic 60s mellotron sound, while the bass tones are firmly rooted in 70s funk. Matt expertly pays homage to various aspects of soul from days gone by but still manages to put his own stamp on it, ironically most evident on ‘Get With The Times’. There are a few places though, like on ‘All That I See’ and ‘Elements’, that veer a bit too far into modern R&B and loses a lot of its spark. The tiny interlude of ‘How It Ends’ feels entirely unnecessary, but the album’s more stripped back balladry of ‘All Fired Up’ and ‘Miracle Love’ really give Matt’s vocals a chance to shine, and the interesting percussion on ‘New Day Coming’ makes the track stand out as a highlight. Rainbow Valley has its little hiccups, but Matt Corby still reigns as Mr Consistent, deftly avoiding the notorious pitfalls of the second album. He’s the kind of underrated artist that may slip your mind, but then you hear albums like this and wonder how you could ever forget him and wonder why he isn’t a household name. If we’re honest with ourselves though, that’s just part of his appeal…