Matthews Southern Comfort – The New Mine

Album Review | MIG Music | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Kicking off with an unusually slow burning opener, a fine arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s “Ethiopia”, although possibly the sort of song you would expect to find midway through side one, or in Joni’s case, midway through side two even, Matthews Southern Comfort get off to a restrained start.  It’s not the first time the band has covered a Joni song and maybe not the last, but possibly on this occasion, the album would have benefitted from a slightly punchier opener.  Maybe “The Sacrificial Cow” or Inbetween” would have been more fitting starters.  What do I know?

The melody of “The Hands of Time” appears to have the feel of Dylan’s “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” in places, whilst both “Feed It” and “Patty’s Poetry”, are shrouded in eighties MOR, the band I imagine sporting dinner jackets with rolled up sleeves and shirt collars worn over the lapels.  Ed Snodderly’s “Working in the New Mine” rescues us from that particularly dismal decade with something a little more soulful, a little funkier if you will, a refreshing take on the song, which also provides the album with its title.  “The Hole” also captures the band, which consists of Bart Jan Baartmans, Bart de Win and Eric De Vries, at its tightest, not to mention Matthews’ seemingly ageless vocal.  Unlike the Joni song, “In the Next Life” is perfectly placed as an album closer, a song of both regret and optimism at the same time.         

Choice Track: The Hands of Time (NSV 498)