Everlast is available at:
3rd March, 2017
The E.P., Everlast, is available at:
TODAY, because I am faced with an exceptional Folk singer-songwriter…
it gives me the chance to discuss the genre and the artists defining and representing it best. I will look at London and how important it is to young songwriters and investigate albums/songs that get the chemical balance just right; tour dates and getting your name out there and this year’s festivals – taking a look at the singer-songwriter market and how competitive it is right now. I issued a moratorium, on myself to be fair, in regards mentioning Folk and the genre. Because I was receiving so many requests from Folk artists; it was inevitable I’d mentioning Folk artists and what was happening in the scene. It has been a little while since I visited Folk so I will come back to – albeit looking at the genre in a new light. This year, as I have discussed before, there is a Rock resurgence and need for urgency in music. Last year was a terrific one for artists assessing society and showing their discontent at injustices and imbalance. This year, there is going to be the same outrage and force: perhaps the nature of the songs is slightly different. Whatever genre we look at, it seems the public look for music with a sense of conscientiousness and passion. Folk is often seen as quite ineffectual and slight: quite vanilla and gentle in a lot of respects. Sure, when your music is largely acoustic and restrained it is hard to portray a sense of indignity and anger. Not only is it possible to convey indignation through Folk: the public do want a balance of emotions and something that is affectionate and comforting. I feel, one of the biggest issues with Folk is holding interest and creating nuance. I hear a lot of Folk artists that are pure of intentions but have not got a strong enough songwriting skill-set to keep fascination high. Against popular and memorable Soul, Pop and Rock assault: can Folk’s best truly compete and nestle alongside the big guns? Well, yes, I feel there is a definite role for Folk for a number of reasons.
For a start, like Pop and Rock, the genre is not one-dimensional or easy to define. I have raised this concern before, I know, but wanted to reiterate. If you have a rigid view of Folk then you need to expand your horizons. In the mainstream, Pop and Rock artists are proffered but comparatively few Folk artists get the same attention. Favourites like Laura Marling and Bon Iver show the variation and polemic nature of the genre: the former, a more ‘traditional’ Folk artist but someone who pushes the boundaries and is one of the most consistent songwriters in the world – the latter more experimental and cross-pollinating. That acoustic-guitar-holding image always comes to mind: the songs will be quite trite and slight; the overall mood one of cannabis-leaf relax and a certain lackadaisicalness. Whilst it is true Folk is less ‘orchestral’ and complex than other genres; that is not to say you can predict it. Matt Perriment is someone who, in a way, reminds me of Britain’s best like Laura Marling. There are wonderful Folk artists who mix Indie shades in but are able to capture emotion, romance and literature – and a variety of other aspects – through complex-simple balance. It is not all strummed and peaceful nor overt and angered. With Folk, as Perriment proves, you can talk about common themes – love and the enigma of love – but cast your new wider and ruminate about the wider world. In doing so, yes, there are some acoustic chords but other instruments and sounds can be employed. In fact, the mark of a great Folk artist is someone who tries to redefine the genre whilst keeping it pure and relatable. It is a hard skill to master but one Perriment is equal to. Perriment has performed on the local (South-East/London) scene for six years now and has really honed his craft. I’ll come to the touring side of things soon but feel it bears mentioning: an experienced musician has got a lot of feedback from his audiences and used that market research to strengthen and embolden his musical ambitious. Everlast, again, more on that anon, is the latest E.P. from the London-based songwriter – the culmination of his previous work and years on the road.
What Matt Perriment focuses on is melodic songwriting and meaningful lyrics: quite the opposite of what some associate with Folk. Before I move on, I want to talk about a couple of (disparate) topics to help define artists like Perriment. Just over a year since Prince died; a lot of artists and music lovers are coming through and stating how his music changed their life. On BBC Radio 6 Music a soundbite/trailer was an interview with – his name alludes me – a musician who claimed, before they discovered Prince, their music brain was black-and-white. After a burst of the Purple One, that changed to a multitude of colours. That is the best you can say about someone’s music: it eradicates a linear, boring palette and blasts a brain-load of bright colours over the wall. Maybe Perriment is not as vivacious and ‘energetic’ than the lamented last legend but his music has the potency to change perceptions and act as a gateway – busting myths about Folk’s (restrictions) and offering the listener a world of possibility. Like Pop, there is a dichotomy and division: the fluffy and commercial side that lacks real substance and the experimental/credible variety. The same can be said of Folk: understanding there are some fantastic sides to the genre is something people are overlooking. The last point (of this section) I wanted to mention was an album celebrating its eighteenth birthday in a few weeks. You might call Travis’ The Man Who a Soft-Rock album but, to me, it is more Folk/Indie. The songwriting on that, not replicated on Travis’ later albums, has a maturity, depth and originality. Although that album suffered some setbacks – its singles gained little radio-play to start; some critics were ambivalent – it has gained huge retrospective acclaim and seen as one of the finest albums of the late-1990s; Although, as I say, Travis have deteriorated in terms of quality; some of the songs in that landmark album have endured this far down the tracks – songs like Why Does It Always Rain On Me? and Driftwood are modern classics. The songs offer dissections of love and relationships but, more than that, offer insights into a man’s (Fran Healy) soul: treaties on youth, meaning and human connection. It subverts expectations about Soft-Rock/Folk and, because of that, ensures The Man Who inspires legions of new songwriters – each keen to learn as much as they can from Travis’ blend of fine melodies and inspirational songwriting. It was just something I wanted to bring up to prove, not only is Folk a genre that should not be easily labelled and, when you hear a unique and special songwriter, they can reveal more about yourself than you ever thought possible.
I’ll come on to other themes on but wanted to put London in the spotlight – like she doesn’t get enough love letters and flirtatious glances as it is! Not one to overinflate the ego of a pretty buff and lusted-after city but it is a perfect place for any songwriter right now. Given the divisions and confusion in other parts of the U.K. – with Brexit and politics in general – there is a unity and common voice coming through in London. The people, I feel, are more together and show a sense of pride and passion few other (parts of the U.K.) possess. It is a shining example that extends to the music industry. Not only is there a fraternity among musicians but a great sense of hope regarding the ‘toilet circuit’ – preserving the small venues and ensuring there are few closures and threats to the fabric of live music. Some parts of London are becoming more gentrified (Peckham is one of those affected, positively, by this) whilst others retain their sense of identity – flaws, warts and all. There is a fantastic mix of nationalities, sounds and smells on the streets: each borough and corner of the city offer something different and exciting. For a songwriter, there is an immense amount of potential to be mined. Not only do current events and the capital’s population give songwriting impetus: the sheer quality and variation of artists emerging in London is extraordinary. Not only is that true of the native population but a large number of musicians choosing to relocate to London. This brings me, before I look at my last point, to touring and great venues to get your ‘foot in’, as it were.
Perriment is situated in London but has, through virtue of his previous residency, played across the South East. Looking at his biography and one sees a few fantastic venues on there: namely, The Barfly, St. Pancras Old Church and the Groucho Club. Covering the hottest locations in NW1 and W1D, that triumvirate is the envy of most musicians – newcomers and mainstream alike. I cannot speak for Groucho Club but know what a revered and beautiful venue St. Pancras Old Church is for artists. It retains, as it is an actual, functional church, its historical and ecumenical vibe but has a degree of serenity, otherworldliness and awe – artists can render a crowd speechless in those hallowed walls. Conversely, The Barfly (Camden) is a bit more intimate and raw: it has a fantastic reputation but is a much more traditional and relatable London venue – perfect for a night of beer, laughter and serious tunes. The fact Matt Perriment has placed such high-profile, if diverse locations, is a testament to his talent and popular sound. If one is based in the capital, the first goal on their list of ‘to-dos’ is to get established in the city. London is such a diverse landscape it can be hard achieving a reputation. Venues and fans in North London might want something different to the hipsters and well-beard in East London; those in the South might favour something Indie and Alternative whilst the esteemed and fussy in West London lust after sounds more angular, Pop-y and chart-bound. This is a generalisation, but you know what I mean?! The city is a beat with many sides and many different layers. Matt Perriment pens music that can satisfy the desires of the city’s four corners and extend much further than that. Touring is an essential part of a career and getting some great gigs in London is a luxury few are afforded. Having St. Pancras Old Church under his belt might compel him to seek out similarly-scenic venues like St. Giles-in-the-Fields and Union Chapel. That Camden gig might give him a taste of KOKO, the Dublin Castle and Scala – all within easy walking distance of The Barfly. Although The Barfly is now The Camden Assembly, it is a great launching pad for any ambitious songwriter. London is alive and bursting with great venues. It is not suited the voyeur musician who is curious to have a peek and never go in. You have to embrace the energy and fast pace of the city: get your music to the promoters and bookers – something Matt Perriment has done and will continue to do.
We all know the singer-songwriter market is fierce and ultra-competitive. Perriment has not achieved the success he has by luck and good timing: he has that passion and talent that creates opportunities. Not only has he played great venues around London but played some international Sofar Sounds shows; played across the country and just come back from a European tour. He is confirmed for Blissfields and KT in the Park this summer and has a busy next few months – in addition to a headline London show later in the year. Hampshire’s Blissfields festival will be held between 6th and 8th July and has big names like Metronomy and The Cinematic Orchestra on its line-up. Getting a chance to play at that event is going to be a big career leg-up for Perriment. Not only is there a wide and diverse crowd there: playing alongside some world-class, established acts will provide confidence and guidance. I admire artists that plug and work on the smaller venues but getting into the festival circuit is a whole different world. Not only do you get to play to so many more people (at a single gig) but it is a huge stage. Having the confidence to play and succeed there will set you up for the rest of your career. Clearly, there is a lot of love for Matt Perriment and his sounds. Festivals and venues are keen to support him which gets me thinking about those artists lucky enough to play them. Is it a case of raw talent or a certain look/sound the festivals are going for? Some artists are booked because they are commercial and can attract big sponsors/crowds; others because they have a legacy and reputation. For new artists, I feel it is a case of true potential and ability. Those at Blissfields have seen Perriment play and heard his material: the man has a huge following and one of the most reputable and impressive young talents in London. At such a young age, it is great seeing Perriment get those terrific festival and London spots; playing around Europe and going from strength-to-strength. How long before he gets some big U.S. dates and finds himself trekking from Nashville to New York; over to L.A. before heading back to England?
I want to talk about Everlast’s key track (in my view) but will end this section by expressing caution to some new artists. In the coming days, I am publishing a piece that is a ‘keys to success’ sort of article. Not that I am the High Priest of Music but have reviewed and interviewed hundreds of artists. Three of the biggest flaws/mistakes bands/acts make relate to their name, websites and music. Many artists, bands especially, often use a rather stupid name or something very common. A lot of them use nouns or overused names: sticking in the mind relies on originality in addition to being distinct. The number of bands I hear that have a name shared by many others – or never show in search engines because they are abstract or oblique – is infuriating. Then you get – often the same acts – who put very few photos online and hide themselves behind the music. The artists that attract my eye and make my blog look semi-professional are those with a range of high-resolution shots and a proper portfolio. This extend to social media and official websites: it has all their links in the one place and some good background; lots of links and regular updates. The third pertains to the music itself and not only being different but capable of attracting a large audience. You either get artists who are too mainstream and aim everything towards trends and chart positions or those who are too left-field or lack any kind of soul. It is a lot to digest and consider but not that hard, surely? Matt Perriment is someone who ticks all the necessary boxes and understands these points. Not only is his music tangible but different to what is out there but has the genuine feel of a professional, world-class act. It might seem insignificant but if you have few images and lack a certain professionalism then few reviewers and fans are going to flock your way. Perriment is a stellar and wise talent who has already taken a big step distinguishing himself from the herd – this will pay dividends in the coming months/years.
Cattle Bay is a gorgeous and tender song whose early notes summon up all sorts of images. The hero, whatever his proximity to Cattle Bay, has people either side of him “Calling out in dismay”. Perriment’s voice is measured and flows: it is like a river running through the song; albeit it, with complete calm and discipline. The strings-piano combination adds a sense of majesty and affection: one is soothed and soft but feels urgency underneath. Whether looking at dislocation and transition – moving away and relocating – or an emotional state of mind; the song does compel each listener to arrive at their own viewpoint. Perriment’s voice rises from compelled and compassionate to rising and howling. It is a range and performance that ensures emotion and evocativeness are never far away. When hitting the high notes – his falsetto particularly pleasing – it takes the song in a new direction and creates different imagery. It is not your average Folk song – what you might hear in the charts – and has a distinct personality and objective. The hero is making his way and it seems is facing some resistance. Maybe I am misreading but that central location (Cattle Bay) keeps coming to mind and seems like a place he is moving from. Punchy percussion and elegant piano notes help support a composition that has plenty of passion and beauty but comes with enough strength and edge to hook a wider range of people. Essentially, it is a beautiful song from the E.P. and one that will inspire different stories and conclusions. Clouded has a similarly touching and gentle beginning – as with Cattle Bay. The song looks at having your mind distorted and fogged by the world around. From birth, it seems, the outside universe throws enough obstacles and challenges that it can hard listening to your own mind. The hero wants to hear his own thoughts and instincts but is being dictated to by everything around him. It is an interesting message and one that few songwriters tackle. It seems thoughts inside his head are causing issues and it is hard seeing what is right and having clarity. Like Cattle Bay; Clouded is a song that gets you thinking and immerses you. The Everlast E.P. is designed to summon dreams and help the listener drift away. There are strengths and urgency but the overriding ambition is to quell stress and hit the imagination.
The title track gets underway pretty quickly and does not need too much build-up. The hero lets his voice get to the point and, it seems, purpose and place are being investigated. The man might be in a hole and going through the motions but there is that determination to succeed and prosper. It seems Perriment thinks about his position and role every day and there is a philosophical leaning throughout the song. There are challenges and setbacks but a definite spirit to make his way and thrive. Whether talking about his music career or life in a wider sense; you get the impression of a young man who is feeling a bit of weight but there is a definite courage and fortitude underneath. The opening moments rely on the softness and passion of Perriment’s voice and the familiar strings of the guitar. Everlast does not depart from the E.P.’s sister songs too much in terms of sounds but that allows a consistency and personality to cement itself. As the song progresses, there is a definite rising in terms of sound and thematics. The vocal becomes hotter and more charged whilst the lyrics display a sense of anger and rebellion. Our man is looking to rise above it all and, like other songs on the E.P., make better days. Things might seem tough and challenging but there is always that light ahead. Perriment is someone who, like us all, is being told he cannot do things or faces struggles in love and live. There is that idea of being in a hole and in a ditch: getting out and succeeding; becoming a stronger person making their own way is what I take from the first moments of Everlast.
As things go to the half-way mark, one gets more of a view of what is happening. What affects me about the song is the way the composition and voice have a sense of familiar but like nothing else. Most listeners will be able to relate to what is being said and the sound but one can detect a distinctness and originality. There are a lot of Folk singer-songwriters and there is never a lot of room for movement and distinction at times. As I have shown in my earlier points, if you have the intelligence and vision, it is possible to give Folk new life and colour. Perriment perfectly balances a degree of legacy and familiar foundation with something intrinsically personal and new. You get the sensation of a man not beholden to sentimentality and nostalgia. Everlast, to me, is a song that emanates from the soul-depths of a man who has lacked a bit of direction and fortitude for a bit. That might sound harsh but he has, perhaps, been compromising and answering to too many other people – not taking direction and control of his own life. Here, there is that breaking-point where he proves there is a clear and strong man underneath. I feel there is a nod to the music and career of Perriment. Maybe he has faced some oppression and doubts when collating his music. One hears a distinct anger underneath the beauty: a desire to correct things and make a success of it all. The hero has been going “round in circles” and feelings things take its toll. Enough is enough, it appears. Although there have been those sceptical minds creating a negative wind; Perriment is someone beholden only to his own dreams and thoughts. Defining this contrast of struggle and determination is a subtle, yet shivering string sound (cello, perhaps?) that gives Everlast a dignity and gracefulness. In a way, hearing the vocal and Classic element fuse reminds me of Tracy Chapman and Nick Drake. Perriment, oddly, has that Chapman-esque sound and soulfulness to his voice.
There will be those who compare Perriment to contemporaries like James Bay and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man but that would be doing him a disservice – and would not interest me were he to resemble them. To me, there is a lot more quality on display: a true voice that takes from a few sources but has that abiding sensation of the self. Perriment is one of those songwriters who is not consciously writing songs for the charts or getting five-star reviews in Heat magazine – no offence but that seems to be the definition of the vague and commercial songwriter. He knows what the mark requires and how Folk is evolving and responds to that. Rather than write a song that is chart-bound and radio-friendly; there is a real nuance and determination to appeal to those who like their music more cultured and deep. You can listen to the title track and let it infuse the senses and absorb the first time. When you get more into it, the song takes on a new guise and different points come to mind. When hearing the song more, I found fresh revelations and considerations. It seems Perriment, in general terms, is motivated to succeed and follow his own voice. Both in life and music, there are plenty who hold him back or do not have adequate faith. Later on, it occurs Everlast is directed at those witnessing the song unfold. It is not merely a personal motif and mandate but a supplication for anyone discovering this track to reflect on their own life. Many songwriters are too confined and do not often pen songs to inspire the listener. Here, there is a distinct impression of motivation and self-assessment. Certainly, when I got into Everlast, I was applying the lyrics to my own situation. Maybe I am misreading and over-reaching but it is rare to find a song like this. However you view its intentions, it is a solid and impressive song from a multi-talented young songwriter. Perriment proves he is not the cliché-laden artist that clogs the mainstream: instead, we have an artist with imagination, appetite and desire – qualities that need to be preserved and celebrated.
I will revisit my early points later but, as I always do, want to point out where Matt Perriment might be heading this year. Of course, there are those festivals dates and the London headline show. He has toured Europe and in no shortage of demand and popularity. I am not sure if there are some local gigs in-between or after but it seems like there is a chance for Perriment to clean up in London. He has already played some phenomenal venues – like The Islington – and will want to conquer new territory and play venues he is a stranger to. Everlast is what we here to talk about an E.P. that definitely registers and resonates. I wanted to focus on the title track because to me, it is the defining moment and best representation of the project. It was recorded in the charming and incredible Iguana Studios in Brixton. That area of London is brimming with hot and cutting-edge musical talent so require a studio prepared to meet their demand. From the outside, it looks like a scaled-down version of Abbey Road – albeit lacking that iconic zebra crossing and alumni like The Beatles. That evocative and professional environment has led to an E.P. that showcases the full extent of Perriment’s talents. Its trio of songs – Everlast, Clouded and Cattle Bay – have been compared to the works of Bears Den and Ben Howard but, when you listen closely enough, it sounds unlike either. Perriment shows himself to be one of the most interesting and accomplished songwriters around. He sounds so confident throughout and, even in three tracks, covers huge ground. You get songs that invite you in and involve you in the imagery – you listen and transport yourself in the stories and intoxicating emotions. The compositions, Perriment recording his first E.P. with a full band, has a Folk sound that brings in other genres to create a full and multifarious collection. It is that voice that captivates and buckles the knees. In various gigs, reviews have noted how the crowd would start chatty and fidgety before having their jaws drop – when that voice takes over the space and gets into every heart. Although there is not a lot of anger and negative energy on the E.P.; you have a wide range of emotions at work and so many different contours. The title track best frames his sensational voice and exceptional way with melody and lyrics.
I haven’t mentioned Folk for a while so have enjoyed assessing an artist who brings new light and life to the genre. Reviewers have been keen to compare Matt Perriment to the likes of Ben Howard and there is some truth – both have the ability to seduce and transfix listeners under their spell. What separates them is their songbook and lyrics. Perriment, like Howard, writes about love and life but in broader strokes – most contemporary songwriters lack necessary range and scope when addressing these themes. What you have is a keen talent who has a poetic ear and an eye for language. The way (Perriment) paints colourful and engaging canvases whilst retaining a sense of modesty and humbleness is to be commended. You get a pairing of emotional revelation and mystery. Everlast’s title track lives up to the intrigue and originality of its title: a song that, once heard, will be on your mind and not far from the fingers – as you play it again and again. It is, like I stated up-top, difficult figuring Folk and thinking it is simplistic. It is a genre, like any other, that offers a little bit of something for everyone. I am, I must admit, not someone who yearns for the days of the patrol Folk singer: those who strum pleasantly but offer little range and urgency. I am not including legends like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan: more the lesser-contemporaries who fail to register serious interest. Modern Folk retains shades of the 1960s/’70s but has modernity and assimilates into the mainstream easily. I have mentioned the likes of Laura Marling: she is a perfect example of someone who can borrow from the likes of Mitchell and Dylan but do her own thing. She is an original and accomplished voice who seems to grow stronger with each album. Matt Perriment is a great Indie/Folk artists who ties classic and modern and has the potential to recruit new followers to the genre(s).
London – somewhere I will mention before ending – is undergoing gentrification in a lot of areas and one has to ask if this will have a detrimental effect on the music scene. The smaller venues (‘toilet circuit’) is the lifeblood of most new artists playing in the country. Most of these spots are in pubs, smaller clubs and the like: they are not the most aesthetically-pleasing and gain merit on the artists they play and general capacity. Most punters are not looking for palatial surroundings and a pretentious menu. Unfortunately, there is a tide of people who want to turn every part of London into Bloomsbury or Chelsea. Those areas are great and provide a sense of escapism – a middle-class Disneyland to the more urban and real slice of London – but they are valid in contradistinction to working-class areas and estates. These areas are part of the beating heart and should only be altered to reduce crime and social deprivation – not take away the character and identity of an area. I fear widespread gentrification will eradicate authenticity and threaten the existence of many established and popular music venues. Against the tide of aesthetic oppression; musicians are ensuring these venues survive and grow. Matt Perriment has played big venues around the city but relies on the smaller venues to test his material and cut his teeth. He is a growing artist who relies on the variation of venues. London is as magical and divisive because of the polemics and differences. Music is an integral part of this and not only enforces this diversity but adds to it. I can understand the lure of London – despite high prices and overcrowding – and it is a wonderful place for musicians to learn, perform and socialise. Matt Perriment knows this and is taking little bits from the city – all distilled in the magical boiling pot that is his music.
2017 is as much about the big and defined artists as it is the newcomers. So far, I have been impressed by the best of this year: Loyle Carner’s debut album, Yesterday’s Gone ranks high among the pack. Like the last couple of years, some of the most intriguing material is being produced by Urban/Hip-Hop/Soul artists. Carner’s mix of personal and socially-aware lyrics and incredible compositions – mixing smooth Jazz horns and sick beats – has resonated with critics and fans alike. Sampha’s Process and Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. are contenders for album of the year already. If the mainstream is seeing an explosion and continuation of tremendous black artists; the underground is seeing a parallel occurrence. Away from those styles of music, I am fascinated by the incredible quality one can experience. Matt Perriment is performing at a time where there is more music, choice and opportunities than at any other time. Yes, there is a competitive market but that means artists are working hard to stand out – in an ironic way, this is seeing the quality rise and bigger, bolder sounds. Perriment can be big and emphatic but entices easiest when he lets his soothing, gorgeous voice register. His compositions have detail and colour but an accessibility that means every listener will be able to extrapolate something from each. Those words, as I stated, project images and have a rare power. This, combined with the vocal-compositional magic is a potent and staggering realisation. Everlast is a wonderfully assured and professional-sounding E.P. that will get Perriment’s music into new hands. I guess, aside from cementing a reputation and doing great work, there is the ambition to take the music as far (literally) as one can. If you are a songwriter who wants to play solely to the home crowds then your ambitions are too limited – this will mean your lifespan is music has a ticking clock in its ear. It is difficult transcending to foreign countries and getting those all-important international gigs. Perseverance and dedication are vital factors and the reason Matt Perriment is getting gigs in Europe. I feel now is the right time to start thinking about the U.S. and the market there. Music lovers in America have an affection for superb British music so I feel Perriment has a big opportunity at his feet – many a mini-tour that goes from the West to East coast. Whatever he has planned for the remainder of this year will be motivated and propelled by Everlast. It is an evocative and sense-heightening triplicate of songs that reward those who favour deep and intelligent music. Imbued with a sensuous passion and underlying concerns; there are contrasts and contradictions to be found. Ingratiate yourself to Matt Perriment’s music and help get the London-based musician…
TO as many people as possible.
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