One of the most interesting facets of social networks is interacting with those who have produced something you enjoy. In other words, exchanging comments with writers, musicians etc. basically with those who are famous for their art.
I have had the opportunity to communicate directly with Eric Matthews whose music with its beautiful orchestral arrangements and seamless vocals I’ve enjoyed very much. He’s an irascible, contrary type but his observations on a whole host of subjects are always interesting.
Before Eric embarked on a solo career, he was part of a duo named Cardinal ,along with Australian singer/songwriter Richard Davies, that made one self-titled album in 1994. And what a record it was! Davies, the Lennon to Matthews McCartney, was the primary singer although Matthews could also be heard and there was a lot of harmonizing. His clever wordplay was elevated by Matthews spacious arrangements or was it the other way round?
It’s been long awaited but Davies and Matthews have reunited as Cardinal 18 years after their debut and put out a second album entitled HYMNS.
I will describe the new record this way – Harmonies? Bigger Chamber Pop? Perhaps not so structured around piano and string and acoustic guitar as the first album – there are more drums here, more standard pop rock fare. I find songs like “Love Like Rain” which follow an electric guitar XTC power pop direction to be less interesting than songs like “General Hospital” (my favorite song after the first few listens) which layers vocals on top of vocals as Davies voice rings through with a pleading quality. However, I am happy to state the interesting songs are the majority.
To put it simply, both men seem to be bring out the best in each other – Davies gives a harder edge to Matthews music and Matthews arrangements give the proper backing to Davies.
“I want you to change but stay the same” goes a song on HYMNS named Rosemary Livingstone and that sums up my feelings initially upon hearing about a Cardinal reunion and album. This record goes places the first one doesn’t and is bigger in sound (there is more brass courtesy of Matthews in addition to harmonies and strings). Maybe it doesn’t connect as emotionally, as directly as the debut but it’s a good and satisfying if much delayed follow-up. Hope it’s not another 18 years before the third Cardinal album!