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Words of the Knife

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Album Review

It's a bit strange to say it, and Mark Matos might not want to be burdened with the comparison, but there's something about Words of the Knife which suggests an alternate future for Beck sometime after 1998 or so. Admittedly this is a forced connection, but there's something about the easygoing and open embrace of frazzled classic rock, downbeat country twang, flecks of tropicalia (part of a larger Brazilian influence immediately evident in his backing band's name), and a quiet murkiness that doesn't so much suggest all the possible forebears there as it does said earlier genre-fuser and popularizer. It's not the only role model at work — vocally Matos occupies a space familiar to fans of Kurt Wagner and Mark Knopfler more than anything else, a comparison that also pretty crisply describes the album's strongest character sketch and upbeat number, "The High Priest of the Mission." The overall sense of the album is pleasant but not exactly deathless — world-weary, contemplative, winsome, yearning, something that aims for storytelling and a full-bodied sigh, with occasional organ flourishes (as on "Warrior and the Thief") that feels like Dylan-and-the-Band inspirationalism more than once. No question it's all nicely done, but there's little to suggest that it might go further from there.

Words of the Knife, Mark Matos & Os Beaches
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