A wealth of instrumentation is hugely beneficial to its lasting appeal. On 'Counting Paths' the intervention of strings and keys upon an already established electronic drum style adds great momentum to his reflective declaration: “Well, if I could apologise / Put the lie back in you eyes/ Nobody's ever looked at me that way”. Driven by the unashamedly pretty rhythmic pairing of banjo and electronic drums, Hegarty's dense baritone on 'Pale Sun Rose' carries the oblique subject matter to a bitter-sweet high. Lyrically, inspiration has clearly been lifted heavily from songwriters like Bill Callahan and Will Oldham, with a pastoral masculinity projected throughout.
(the digital fix)
There is no immediacy to Other Rivers, no fanfare or anything that instantly demands attention. Instead, it’s an album that the terms ‘slow-burn’ and ‘a grower’ were invented for. Shimmering into existence with “Into Gold”, a warm, still, sun-drenched track that shines in and out with almost a capella vocals, rising to a banjo and tambourine led middle eight, before sinking into the horizon.
The dramatic peak of “Pale Sun Rose” has the slightly disorientated feel that Villagers do so well, with interweaving melodies and a busy, clustered sound. One of the examples of the new directions MatA has gone in, it’s followed, by contrast, by “To the North”, a reworking of an older track that drops back down to an acoustic, sparser feel, with the yearning, upward reaching vocals that were so present in earlier recordings.
The unexpected major chords of the predominantly minor “Out of Darkness” along with discordant strings, and a regulatory drum machine backing makes this one of the most dramatic pieces on the album, in a swirl of mystery and tumultuousness. The juxtaposition of dark, wistful lyrics, written plainly and cleanly, with an uplifting, rabble-rousing melody becomes more apparent later on in the album, in particular “Everything That Dies”, with the mantra ‘you said everyone you know, one day ill surely die/but everything that dies in some way returns’ transforming it from what starts a gospel-esque melody into an electronic backed epic chorus.
(the line of best fit)