Album Reviews

Matt Harding – Commitment

UK release date: 3 November 2003

Commitment is the second album from one of Britain’s best young songwriters, Matt Harding. It is an admirable effort, managing to sound both fresh and familiar at the same time.

If you really wanted to classify Harding, you would probably file him under electro-folk, or some similar category. His is a sound somewhere between Aqualung and Beck, though less melancholic than the former and more subtle than the latter. Indeed, Commitment is far less vocal than anything from either of those two artists, suggesting that Harding is so comfortable with his own music that he, more often than not, is happy to let it speak for itself.

Tracks like the stoned Leave It Up To You render the whole affair as loveable as anything released this year. You’ve Been Here Before is more lackadaisical than Turin Brakes, but just as beautiful and passively engaging than anything you will find on on either Ether Song or The Optimist.

Harding keeps the vibe exceptionally simple, with acoustic guitar layered over a light drumloop. Other tracks, such as the album-closing If She Could See Me Now, are perhaps more noticeably electronic, though by no means less soothing or sincere.

Commitment is always minimal but never bare. It’s the kind of record you’d listen to on a Sunday afternoon when all you want to do is veg out and relax. You won’t be disrupted with angry or overly-melancholic lyrics because the few lyrics delivered are done so dreamily. You won’t have to skip any tracks because they all originate from the same smokey (one imagines) studio, and come and go like rays of sunshine in winter. Positive particularly fits this description, and is more akin to playing guitar and whistling with your friends than something you just bought at HMV.

One possible drawback to Matt Harding’s music is that it takes the sentiments of easy-listening a little too far, and threatens to pass you by unless you’re careful. This, however, is a very small complaint, especially given that most of Commitment’s tracks have a tendency to subtly change proceedings mid-way, and throw an entirely new perspective on things. Like it’s creator, the album is understated, comfortable and, most importantly, somewhat different to anything else.

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Matt Harding – Commitment