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I came to this album as a Phosphorescent novice on the recommendation of a friend. I have plainly been missing out by not hearing him sooner.

I'm not in a position to compare this to other Phosphorescent albums, but I think Muchacho is a very good album indeed, with thoughtful, haunting and intelligent songs, beautifully arranged and - in their idiosyncratic way - very well sung. The instrumental backing is rich, electronic and very beautiful. There is a mixture of the mournful and the hopeful here, and a mixture of styles, too, held together by the slightly cracked, mixed-back and multi-tracked vocals which I found very expressive and affecting.

I think that there are some things about this album which remind me of Leonard Cohen. Now, I know it sounds absolutely nothing like a Cohen album, but Matthew Houck has the same ability to write a straightforward but lovely tune and to put things into extremely evocative, sometimes elusive words. The brilliant Muchacho's Tune is a good example - haunting, self-excoriating and in search of redemption. I don't want to push the comparison too far because things like the vocals and overall sound here and on Old Ideas, for example, couldn't be more different but I do think he shares some of Cohen's genius for conjuring insight and feeling in a song. I mean that as the highest praise.

This was a surprising and delightful discovery for me, and I'm now off to seek out some of Phosphorescent's other work. It's a really fine album and warmly recommended.
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"Muchacho del Lujo" is an expanded version of Phosphorescent's 2013 release combined with a glorious live concert from an intimate pre-release live show recorded at St. Pancras Church in London. "Muchacho" is an album that was born out of a domestic crisis and recorded on the beach in Tulum, on the Yucatan Peninsula. It represented a culmination of Matthew Houck's musical outpouring following a relentless touring schedule and exhaustion. The troubadour has incorporated for the first time electronica and new textures in a major way into his songs and packed them full of undulating synthesiser arpeggios. Yet behind this remains a true voice, one that is wounded and often hurt but glories in the simple wonders of life and eschews self-pity.

A guilty confession and mea culpa also from this reviewer. Upon reflection, my posted original review of the album was cast to early and was too dismissive. Part of the reason for this was the presence of a number of stellar standout tracks on first listens that almost seemed to crowd out the surrounding music. Yet over time, the sum of the parts become the whole and you grow to love them all dearly. Equally the approach of bookending the album with two essentially same hymnals not only felt a tad "Fleet Foxes" but seemed to cheat the record of other songs. This deluxe version of the album fully addresses this not least with the glorious largely piano-led live versions and lets the original album breath properly.

For those approaching for the first time the splendid signature track from the album "Song for Zula" is the Song of 2013. Houck's threadbare road-weary voice against the backdrop of slabs of synths is superb and the lyrics are emotional darts. The killer opening verse is a case in point where he declares "See, honey, I saw love/You see it came to me/It puts its face up to my face so I could see/Yeah then I saw love disfigure me/Into something I am not recognizing". The piano-led version on the St Pancreas disk is also plain gorgeous. More traditional Houck territory is explored on "Terror in the Canyon" a lovely alt-country anthem infused with bar room heartbreak. "Down to go" multiplies this by a factor of two with the piano version bordering on heartbreaking. When Houck sings "Oh, you'll spin your heartache into gold,....but it rips my heart out don't you know" you feel the wounds. On repeated listens the song "The Quotidian Beasts" is every bit the equal of "Song for Zula" in its epic hard-edged scale. The tremendous crescendo fires the songs conclusion to such a level that one reviewer has described it "Houck's "Cortez the Killer," a sawed-off saga that rolls like a midnight rambler with Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue". On another level the song that precedes it "A New Anhedonia" is as brilliantly wrecked as anything from "On the Beach" and draws you back time and time again. The St Pancreas version is slowed down almost to silence. It is joyous also to hear the wonderful versions of previous Houck classics not least "My dove, my Land" and a ten-minute version of "Wolves" which is too precious for words and possibly better than the original. The whole musical feat is rounded off with an emotionally fraught version of the great "Los Angeles" the magnificent highlight of 2010's "Here's to taking it easy" confirming Matthew Houck as one of America's new musical giants.

The best American music blogger Heather Browne recently described "Muchacho, as squally and dirt-streaked, it's threadbare and greedy, it's weary and pugnacious, and it is a perfect soundtrack for that drive across America's dusty highways and bye-ways​". She is right since it is an album that reeks atmosphere and soundtracks human wreckage with tender care. It is now accompanied by a brilliant set of live versions and much more besides. Please seek out this rewarding gem.
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on 15 February 2014
Other reviews detail the context of the extra songs on this deluxe pack. I bought the original, which remains a favourite. An album, packed with emotion, wonderful melodies, and for me, was the soundtrack to a wonderful holiday with my family. 'Song for Zula' still hits deep in my heart. Needless to say the advent of the 'deluxe' package saw me dole out further cash! Well worth it. The additional tracks, a full 78mins long, feature Matthew Houck accompanied by piano and light guitars, set in a church - very appropriate for his dreamlike songs and fragile vocals. The CD features many songs from the album plus some highlights from previous album. High quality and essential for any fan.

I don't think it's particularly right to come out with a deluxe version many months after the original. However, in this case, a worthwhile purchase! I look forward to the next, and seeing Phosphorescent live again some time.
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on 19 November 2013
Recording of an intimate "try out" concert in London is bundled with the standard disc. We were lucky enough to be at the concert, and the recording is a reminder of a great evening. Just a duo, so the voice and melodies come through strongly. Great stuff!
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on 14 November 2013
This is my album of the year - even before this edition came out.

Don't know what else to say...check out some songs on youtube. If you like, come back and buy the album. It's fantastic.
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on 1 January 2014
Very haunting. A little different from earlier work which had more of an Americana feel. This one has a touch of the 80s too.
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on 5 May 2015
its ok but i wouldnt buy again
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on 5 April 2015
Excellent album
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