Matty James Cassidy: Old Souls (Pirate Heart Records, 2020)

Matty James Cassidy’s new album, Old Souls (release date 28th August 2020) is officially his third album. And what an awesome album it is. I have been listening to it over and over again and I am not getting bored, on the contrary.

Old Souls is, as said above, Matty James Cassidy’s third album, but in my books it’s his fourth real album. If albums are like babies, Old Souls is the planned one. But sometimes babies are just coming without planning, and that’s exactly what happened to Matty in the spring, when The Isolation Tapes was born. Just like that, not planned, it just happened.

But Old Souls was planned, and live gigs, too, to bring the new songs to the audience. But it didn’t quite go as planned as this invisible, nasty little thing conquered the world and still keeps hold of it. The live shows will happen sometimes in the open-ended future, but the album is here.

MJC - PHDL017 - Old Souls - Cover small version

I don’t have the physical copy of the album at the time of writing, but when I saw the album cover first time, I was just thinking how good looking, simple, eye-catching cover design it has. I love the “stereo” marking. As an ex-record collector it couldn’t stay unnoticed by my eyes (unfortunately “ex”, but also fortunately, as collecting records can sometimes be a never ending road to a financial catastrophe). And I love the colour scheme of the cover. It’s almost perfectly matching with the colour scheme of my website! No wonder I love the cover as there are used my favourite colours. The cover design is done by Matty himself. That man has a good visual taste.

So that’s about the non-music qualities of the Old Souls album. Better move on and say a word or two about the musical side of the album, which is always a bit hard task for me with my nonexistent knowledge about music. But I definitely know what is good stuff when I hear it. And this album is “good stuff”. Okay, I am a fan but that doesn’t scupper my ability to write about this.

I have to confess that still in the spring I was a bit worried about the direction to which Matty might head with his forthcoming album. But when I heard The Isolation Tapes I was convinced that he cannot do any radical turns regarding the new album.

There has not been a deliberate change in sound to be honest, but I guess it happens naturally as you gain more experience and write about different things. There’s blues, country, folk and all sorts thrown into the mix, but to me it’s just a good rock n’ roll record.

I guess this comment from the man himself wraps up pretty much the essentials of the album. Some of the songs were already familiar to me before listening the album first time. One of those songs is the opening track ‘Said & Done’ that was released as a lyric video in July.

In this song there are all the elements that I love in Matty’s music. It is a nicely flowing song with a catchy chorus sung with a very identifiable voice that caresses ears.

The second track is called ‘Contradiction In Terms’. As you might know, my native language is not English and I didn’t know what the title meant, so I had to check it in a dictionary. Now I know; a tiny English lesson while writing an album review! Anyway, the song is easy to adopt by all the rock n’ roll lovers as it takes the listener way back into the earlier days of rock music. Piano is just the thing that you would miss if it’s not there. This song makes you move! Yeah, I hope he will do some shows in venues with a piano. That’s what I want to hear; ‘Contradiction In Terms’ live with a piano involved.

Matty is not stuck on the classic guitar, bass, drums lineup. He brought a saxophone into his live shows a couple of years ago. The saxophonist in his live shows and on the album is Bret Barnes, whom we can hear e.g. on the third track, ‘Anodyne’.

‘Anodyne’ – together with ‘Rosary’ – was published last year as a double A-side single. You can see the video that was made for ‘Anodyne’ here. I wrote a bit about making the video in my brand-new article about Matty.

But it was ‘Rosary’ that caught my interest. I fell in love with it as soon as I heard it first time. I bought the single somewhere that I cannot remember, probably at a gig as I cannot remember ordering it. But then I ordered the single again this spring! The latter one found a new home. I definitely love that song.

The other guy on this video is Matty’s brother Phil. I just wanted to let you know if you are “new” and are just taking first steps into Matty’s music.

The musicians on the album are Matty James Cassidy (vocals, guitars, bass, drums, percussion and harmonica), Phil Cassidy (lead guitars, mandolin and backing vocals), Daniel Kenny (piano and organ) and Bret Barnes (saxophone). Matty’s bandmate from Tyla’s Dogs D’Amour, Gary Pennick, is playing additional guitar on ‘Down On My Luck’ and I was happy to see Ben Marsden (from my beloved The Main Grains, nowadays in The Spangles) playing lead guitar on ‘Leave Your Heart At Home’. The album is produced by Matty and Gary. Gary also mixed it.

Anyway, I want to say a bit more about a couple of songs. The above mentioned ‘Down On My Luck’ is an older song and familiar from Matty’s gigs. Acoustic version of it is on Cut To The Bone limited edition album that has been available only at live shows. I am glad that the song made it to this album, too.

Sometimes songs play out in your head like short films, you can see the colours, picture the scene and imagine the world-weary characters… maybe they are the Old Souls (from the press release).

img4Matty, Mancchester, 28 April 2019
Matty photographed in Manchester in April 2019. Photo © Katriina Etholén.

The title track, ‘Old Souls’ is one of my top favourite tracks on the album. It has a nice reggae beat, it is dark and powerful, and it somehow stands out of the other songs – maybe because of its intensiveness and Bret’s saxophone that “steals the show”. And the sax is becoming stronger and stronger towards the end of the song. I love that.

The songs are full of feelings, they are powerful and beautiful. They differ from each other; “all sorts thrown into the mix”, as Matty said. There are up-tempo songs like ‘Said & Done’, ‘Contradiction In Terms’ and galloping ‘After All’, and slower ones like ‘The Art Of Falling Down’, mystic ‘Old Souls’ and ‘Down On My Luck’.

I can’t wait for the days when we are again free to move around and travel abroad. I really do want to experience these new songs live. The closing track, catchy ‘Born Ancient’ represents the folky side of Matty’s music. I love how the song is building up towards the end. It’s a perfect sing-a-long song; the song is in fact crying for being sung together in an intimate acoustic event. So I’d better learn it by heart.

Isn’t that just the way of the world
For all you little boys and girls
Got more than you need
‘Til it’s less than theirs
Got nothing to believe
‘Til somebody cares

That’s how ‘Born Ancient’ ends. A perfect closing song in a fantastic album. What else can I say than go to buy it! If you have liked Matty’s previous albums, you won’t be disappointed.

3. Matty, Manchester, April 2019
Manchester, 28 April 2019. Photo © Katriina Etholén.

Text © Katriina Etholén
Extract from ‘Born Ancient’ © Matty James Cassidy

Songs on Old Souls:

1. Said & Done
2. Contradiction In Terms
3. Anodyne
4. The Art Of Falling Down
5. Rosary
6. Leave Your Heart At Home
7. Old Souls
8. Down On My Luck
9. After All
10. Born Ancient

Matty James Cassidy’s website can be found here and you can find the album and other merchandise here (Matty’s bandcamp page). You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. All the other links can be found on the website.

My new, interview based interview can be found here.

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