Matthew Doyle – I am a Vulture, I am the Scavenger of the Desert
This wordy-titled album is the debut release from Dubliner Matthew Doyle, available physically from The Secret Book and Record Store in Dublin, and digitally for free from Bandcamp. It’s an album of varying styles and varying quality.
Just the first two songs alert you to this fact, with the instrumental floaty ‘Peel Sound’ giving the impression that you’re in for a breathy, floating post-rock album, before ‘The Sea’ opens with just Doyle acapella before briefly introducing an upbeat acoustic guitar for just a few bars. It’s an old-fashioned, sea-shanty, old-Irish sort of tune which introduces the voice you hear for the next thirty minutes.
Doyle’s voice is decent if not spectacular, he speaks rather than sings throughout. It’s the lyrics that are the focal point of the record, with simple guitar chords and riffs only serving as foundations for Doyle’s poetry. ‘Terrified’ has a Nick Cave ballad feel to it, the sparse ‘Now I Am A Better Soldier’ and the haunting ‘I Once Walked Abroad in Another Country’ are slow-burning standouts, but overall the album is much too one dimensional.
There are plenty of songs on here that could be wondrous in a live and drunken atmosphere, like ‘Folk on the Road’, but overall it’s a poor album. If it had followed the direction of opener ‘Peel Sound’ much more closely, it could have been a very interesting record. For now, it’s back to the drawing board.