MATT JOE GOW SEVEN YEARS

Seven years since sowing the seeds with consummate debut The Messenger (2009) (with band The Dead Leaves), Dunedin-raised, Melbourne-based songsmith Matt Joe Gow returns to thresh the wheat with this, his third full-length outing. The local alt. country scene of today is a bounteous field for the reaping, and Gow sets about his work with relish. Opener ‘I’m Your Man’ is a rousing heartland-rock opening salvo, before the low-slung barroom guitar snarl of ‘Runnin’ On Time’ lumbers into action. There’s misty-eyed Justin Townes Earle earnestness coupled with harmonica in ‘Bottle It Up, Pass It On’ and ‘Right By You’, a rootsy, piano-anchored Southern amble reminiscent of The Band in ‘Georgia Rose’, and a percussive alt. country stomp featuring Katya Harrop in ‘Flowers In Your Hair’. ‘Down River’ – an earthy, Southern-soul-inflected repurposing of The Messenger’s title track – gives way to the resonant alt. country guitarscape of ‘Bitter Pill’, before the Whiskeytown-leaning sign-off of closer ‘Bye’. Gareth Hipwell