Matthew McGinn - Winter EP

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Matthew McGinn
Winter EP
Matthew McGinn - Winter EP Review rating:
3.5
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Six months of the year, southern landscape becomes a blur, even when you attempt to force clarity by staring at it. The stereotypes of the region’s scenery—of cotton fields and peach trees and humidity spilling through its winding streets—are fitting. But in autumn, the landscape becomes as palpable as a living entity, carrying scarlet leaves through lingering aromatic trails of hot chocolate while still maintaining a hint of the rustic aura for which it’s known.

Here enters “I Still Sleep Alone,” which breaks the quiet of this late rural fall night. A short twangy build-up precedes crisp and honest vocals, words revealing the meandering motion of hopefulness into a harsh reality and back again, ultimately leading up to a wistfully romantic promise equal to spring’s guarantee of emotional renewal.

This is Winter, Matthew McGinn’s seven-song sophomore EP, which chronicles the ebb and flow of fall into winter and the seasons’ strong intertwining with both blissful and splintered memories; a withered yet trusting chain of events.

A simple blend of feathery finger picking and soft percussion ends the silence between track one and “Madeline,” just as the South’s boldly colored leaves turn tawny and begin their tense surrender to winter’s unforgiving ground. McGinn’s delicately recurring assertion, “Madeline / Don’t let that darkness / Go and cloud your eyes,” is as reassuring as the signs of spring, developing, even if veiled beneath the now-vacant cotton fields.

“Sorry About It All” is a musical cocktail of southern valor: the resonating steel guitar, the colloquial dropping of “G’s,” the rural-sounding elements sprinkled throughout. A slant of high-spirited sunlight appears somewhere in the chorus’s many “‘bout’s,” as a virgin morning erupts; the consequences of this episode—one of unrequited love and sincere apology—swallowed with a glass of sugar-infused iced tea. The track rides on, with the acoustic embodiment of autumn’s final purpose, like that of children shaping piles of leaves only to ignite them for warmth.

Forging through struggles with the certainty of a restored future is the heart of Winter, pulsating through each uttering of promise, following new confessions of trials endured, best represented by the title track—a five-minute snapshot of the EP—first channeling the strain of unrequited love from a new perspective and ending with the guarantee of a budding goodness, into "Maybe This Will Be My Year," which dissolves into a sign of what’s to come.

The waving paradoxes of trial to promise, winter to spring, and the processes of strife and harmony remain a staple of the disc. Perils progress to a mournful pairing of soft brushings of the ivories and gently-strummed guitar chords in “Eighteen Candles.” It gives the impression that a gas-like hex radiates through the fruitless trees of the music’s thick orchard—avoiding the sensed promise of a springtime, lingering underground. Still, a trace of hope resonates in the echoing sounds of McGinn’s voice, overlapped with harmonies acknowledging the blossoming illumination, and suggests the presence of heaven and reawakening.

Careful plucking picks up, and a strangely gripping bit of bitter nostalgia ensues through the lines, “There’s a shadow in your room / A stranger in my sheets / A ghost that lingers on your lips / Forever haunting me,” accompanied by a short-lived string arrangement, which jointly emphasize this particularly harsh season. The sun fades early, casting a long-lasting shadow on this distinct scene, an accurate reflection of winter’s true bleak nature.

1. I Still Sleep Alone
2. Madeline
3. Sorry About It All
4. Winter
5. Maybe This Will Be My Year
6. Eighteen Candles
7. It Should Have Been Me

Hometown: Apex, NC
Website: www.matthewmcginn.net

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