First thought: you look at the sleeve and booklet of "The Broken Man" and you cannot help wondering why they were printed in BLACK on a DARK BROWN background. They are UNREADABLE. Song titles, lyrics and liner notes are INVISIBLE even if they are included.
Second thought: bristolian Matt Elliott's new album is sublime. It could easily become this year's "Last Of The Country Gentlemen". As far as we are concerned it is already on our top five record chart of 2012, even though we do not know yet the other four discs that will join it there.
But, what is this "Broken Man" exactly? It is a tenderly desperate opus. Flamenco guitar, violin, piano (on track five) and an operatic, electronically treated choir all join in to form a crisp backing, over which Mr Elliott's voice - a warm, bittersweet instrument - softly glides to deliver his resignedly passionate words on broken love.
Rest assured: this music will slow-burn its way into your soul and it will take no prisoners. This is "Blue Monday" as sung by Nick Drake. This is Jean Genet wandering through the harbour fog, pining for his lovers. This is a man so crushed by life that there is no self-pity left. There is only truth, the one you learn via sheer loneliness of the heart.
Last thought: it is a crying shame that music of such value should be "adorned" by drab, shoddy artwork. We have therefore decided to give this album only three stars, just to punish not Mr Elliott, but those who produce sleeves and booklets with such lack of respect for artistry. When those kind souls at the Ici d'Ailleurs label release a new version of this cd, one with READABLE inserts, we shall be more than happy to amend our rating.
Meanwhile, we can only enjoy and seethe at the same time.