Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5
The name Townes Van Zandt immediately springs to mind from the opening line of the title song on Matthew Robb’s latest release Dead Men Have No Dreams. The rugged sepia mugshot featured on the cover conjures a mixture of archive material from Ken Burns’ Civil War series, to how you would imagine the man behind such songs as “Waiting Around to Die” or “Poncho and Lefty” to look, although Townes never did look quite so bedraggled, even when he was slurping vodka and coke from separate bottles. Matthew Robb presents to us an image of the well-travelled troubadour, with ten songs, some sprawling as in the title cut, others not so.
If the social messages in both “Common Destiny” and “Spoils of War” work so well, it’s because of the almost jaunty take on the old talking blues model, almost as if saying, take it or leave it, it’s your call, with a shrug. The same can also be applied to “Pass the Buck”, where Robb wears his Dylan sensibilities on his sleeve. “Mothers Song” once again recalls Townes in reflective mode, a song that would be a suitable climax to a late night candle-lit song sharing soiree, just as the last of the Jack Daniels is poured.
Choice Track: “Common Destiny” (NSV 492)