Singer-songwriter Mat Gibson returns to the fold with Forest Fire, five years since his last release, Home Movie. So what has changed during this period? Well gone are The Fallen Hearts for a start. This ensures the record presents itself in more of a stripped back light than its processor. That’s not to say it’s completely devoid of any additional instrumentation. When percussive elements are needed drums, tambourine and the occasional glockenspiel are all utilised. Matt does also make use of other instrumentation such as piano, harmonica and slide guitar but all in a very sparing and calculated manor. Which gives the record the time and space to breath.
It’s this use of space which strikes me the most about the record and the way it’s masterfully orchestrated. At times so bare before a rush of instrumentation gently washes in seemingly out of nowhere to lull the listener into submission. Mat Gibson has spent the past two years living in Quebec. Tragically on his final day in Canada, Quebec was subject to forest fires in north of the city. The smoke from the fires blackened out the skies for what must have been a truly terrifying experience. Such was the impact on Mat that it also served as inspiration for the title of the record as well as lyrically and song titles.
The standard of song writing on show stays high throughout and whilst at times the instrumentation is sparse as previously mentioned, he definitely manges to keep you engaged with a strong emotional connection running throughout the record. Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Ryan Adams are usually referenced when speaking about Mat’s work. Which definitely rings true. I can also hear touches of William Elliott Whitmore, Elliott Smith and even Fleet Foxes during the record. Definitely good company to be referenced to in my book. What Matt Gibson has successfully delivered with Forest Fires is heart wrenchingly beautiful, slow burning Americana that really packs a punch. Albeit in a subtle and alluring way.
Released on 5th September 2011 by Clubhouse Records