Four years after The Calm Before, British musician and singer-songwriter Matt Elliott recently released a new album titled Farewell to All We Know which is out now via French label Ici D’Ailleurs. According to the press release, Farewell To All We Know is an instant classic based on the sensitive piano and superb arrangements of David Chalmin, the sensitive cello of Gaspar Claus, the subtle bass of Jeff Hallam (who has also played with Dominique A and John Parish).
There is a clear form of alchemy in all of this and still we find Matt Elliott’s usual atmospheres and scenery, the same Eastern European folk music, long songs that take time to settle over time. Everything is the same but also is transfigured. By making his music stark and purifying and redefining the subject matter, Matt Elliott’s work became so much more delicate. However this work is never frail nor really turned in on himself and thus becomes like a vital tune that vibrates and unfolds.
The opening song Farewell To All We Know seems torn between the fear of what tomorrow may bring, inevitability and hope for the future in a permanent and progressive dramatic tension expressed by his Spanish guitar, the impressionist style piano and Matt’s voice teetering on the edge of whispers. A funereal tribute to endless twilights and the dawns we all dream of seeing.
The haunted instrumental Guidance Is Internal harks back to the atmospheres of Howling Songs (2008) with its guitar parts full of scansions and muted threats. The music is transcendental but never seems afraid of the risk of falling. This is also what Bye Now tells us with its quasi-obsolete simplicity and sunburst melancholy reminiscent of the work of Luiz Bonfá, Bill Evans on Peace Piece or laidback crooners of the 50s.
In Farewell To All We Know, Matt Elliott incessantly alternates between th
e dual desires to face up to the world or to protect himself from it. Hating The Player, Hating The Game is a lucid statement about the dullness of our daily lives sometimes, our right to get out of the game and no longer want to be part of it. Matt Elliott is tender but spares no one, particularly himself. Aboulia speaks of the tiredness of living and of looming death while Crisis Apparition says that there is always a time for reconstruction after chaos. This is like initially wearying wandering in the ruins of Aleppo with the slow dilution of the melody into a hallucinated drone. However the smell of great fires always fades and the earth always regenerates. Matt Elliott seems to suggest that the survival instinct is stronger than any cold winds could ever be.
Matt Elliott never sings of certainties and prefers possibilities. Possibly the worst is over? Maybe… Maybe the storm has passed and devastated everything, now we just have to rebuild and live again. Farewell To All We Know shows us the distance that still needs to be walked and he walks next to you – right next to you, he is the friend who doesn’t spare you the truth like all true friends really do.