Matt Kivel – Janus [album review]

by Woody on February 15, 2016


Janus is Matt Kivel’s third album. While I’ve never listened to his prior efforts, I feel confident in saying that Janus is his best work. Why? Because it is damn good. Kivel at his core is a singer-songwriter, singing in hushed tones. For this effort, Kivel reached out to Alasdair Roberts to see if he’s interested in producing this album. Who’s Alasdair Roberts you ask? Good question as I didn’t know either. Roberts is a Scottish singer-songwriter who’s worked with Will Oldham and the late Jason Molina. He’s pretty awesome so I can see why Kivel reached out to him.

Anyway, Kivel stayed with Roberts in Glasgow and over the course of a couple weeks; they cobbled together this wonderful album. The songs are fleshed out in all sorts of ways. One of my favorite tracks is Prime Meridian. It starts off with a basic piano riff and some muted jazzy drums. Throughout the tune, a bow is lazily dragged across a fiddle, giving it a little Appalachian flavor. The pace of this song and Kivel’s delivery make this song sound like an old-time hymn.

A few tracks later is Jamie’s. It reminds me of something that Strand Of Oaks would sing. The tune is heavy and blunt as it deals with a teen girl coming out of the closet to her family and friends. Its got blasts of synth throughout and exits with a mournful sax solo.

Janus is most definitely worth checking out but if you do, give it a few spins. It took me a few listens before I really started seeing the beauty in it.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Matt Kivel is here

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