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The Island Moved In the Storm

Matt Bauer

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Album Review

The cover art of The Island Moved in the Storm shows folksinger Matt Bauer wading in shallow water and struggling to support the body of a young woman dressed in what appears to be a wet white nightgown. He looks weary and beaten, barely able to support himself, much less the woman in his arms. Is she living or dead? Hard to know. It's a provocative photo, open to many interpretations. That wasted, somnolent vibe carries over to the music on the album, a suite of songs dealing with depression, dysfunctional relationships, and violent death. The murder ballad was once a staple of American folklore; cautionary tales about the perils of the modern world were commonly sung around after-dinner fireplaces in days gone by, perhaps the folkloric equivalent of Grand Theft Auto. Bauer's songs are based loosely on a newspaper clipping he recalls from his youth. A dead young woman was found wrapped in a canvas tarp on a road near Eagle Creek. How she came to be there and the circumstances of her death were never discovered. Bauer hangs his tunes on this incident and sings them with minimal guitar and banjo accompaniment, occasionally augmented by quiet organ, woodwinds, pedal steel, or almost subliminal backing vocals. Mostly it's just Bauer, singing in a barely audible whisper that makes these stygian visions all the more telling. Sparse banjo and electric bass notes give "Sheltering Dark," an autumnal song about the silent moments between life and death, day and night, a stark beauty. Funereal horns set up "Rose and Vine," a mysterious tune that brings to mind the old ballad "The Erlking." It's a desperate ride under slate-gray winter skies to escape from god knows what unnamed and unnameable demons. "Florida Rain" addresses the transitory nature of existence with sparse banjo and an affecting vocal from Bauer. "You've been through some hell in your time, and more to come, oh more to come," he sings in a voice full of resignation and regret. "Don't Let Me Out" speaks of murder, suicide, unquiet graves, and the ghosts, real and imagined, that haunt everyday life. "(Corolla) The One You Love," a country lament graced by a weeping pedal steel guitar, closes the album with a final despondent message. It could be a suicide note, or merely another deliberation on the innate sadness of life, but it echoes the sentiment of lonely lovers everywhere: "What's the good of love when the one you love is gone?" ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Excellent Revamp of the Country Genre

Matt did good to veer off of the traditional country song for this album.