Matt JR Hurley – Raising Questions
1. Shout to the Sky
2. My Soul Sings
3. Spinning Circles
5. The Promise of Redemption and Hope
Debut EP from singer/songwriter MATT JR HURLEY. He is a young man who has been through some trying situations in the last few years. He is also an honest person and his reflections on the challenges to, and the security of, his own faith are poetically captured in his songwriting. No glib triumphalistic songs here, these songs are both modern laments and songs of hope and strength. His aim is to help point and direct his listeners to the hope and security of having an active faith and belief in God through his music by writing and singing about all circumstances we may find ourselves in, in our lives – both the good times and the bad. Because, regardless of any of our beliefs, life is not always easy.
The songs on the EP feature poetic lyrics, thoughtful melodies and powerful choruses performed by a group of his musician friends – all framed around Matt’s acoustic guitar playing.
Matt’s songs are grounded in a folk/roots feel as highlighted in the tracks ‘Shout to the Sky’ and ‘Spinning Circles’ through to the more pop tinged ‘My Soul Sings’. ‘Pebbles’ is an an ethereal track dealing with the theme of loss. The final track on the release, which is built on a gentle pulsing march, “The Promise of Redemption and Hope” makes the very important point of no matter what we may encounter in our lives, there is actually something more for us all.
It’s an EP of powerful storytelling and real earthy testimony and experience with a maturity beyond Matt’s years.
First track ‘Shout To The Sky‘ opens with a gently plucked acoustic guitar, and Matt’s solemn and precise voice. “Again I shout to the sky, I know that you’re listening.” As the song progresses at a melodic pace, violins are introduced first, before the percussion appears and lifts the feel of the song to a worshipful cry.
‘My Soul Sings‘ again starts with a simple guitar sound to back the warm and soothing vocals. Matt demonstrates a wider vocal range and a variety of tempos in this track, as mid way through the beat increases. A delicate electric guitar solo makes a welcome showing right in the middle of the song, leading to a much fuller sound as the drums and guitars provide a fantastic backing to the lyrics.
The early bass-led intro for ‘Spinning Circles‘ adds another dimension to the sound Matt has expertly crafted on this EP. Again the electric guitar floats deliciously into the mix from time to time, keeping the song fresh and avoiding any accusations of boredom.
There’s a simple beauty to ‘Pebbles‘, with its highly expressive lyrics easily conjuring images in the listener’s mind. “Throwing pebbles, makes the water ripple in the wind”, Matt sings. Musically this is probably the highlight of the EP too, with a fabulous blend of guitars and keyboards coming together to make you feel like you’re soaring along with the song.
Closing track ‘The Promise Of Redemption And Hope‘ doesn’t stray too far from the gentle pace of early tracks, but again the percussion’s delayed entrance turns the song into a highly enjoyable listen.
These may not be stadium anthems, but this EP has a glorious reflective feel, perfect for those quieter moments in life when you just want music that will gently sooth you. Matt JR Hurley has put together a handful of songs which are musically well crafted, lyrically thoughtful, and overall, a pleasure to listen to. 4/5 stars. Louder Than The Music (UK)