Matt Norris & The Moon – This Kingdom EP

Last week’s promise of a return from our writing hiatus is beginning to look like a bit of a false dawn. I shan’t bother with any excuses on this occasion. I think everyone’s bored of them by this point; you, me, bands, PRs. Let’s just get to the music. The music in question comes courtesy of Matt Norris & The Moon and their Every Kingdom EP.

This post has been a long time coming really, given the May release of the EP. However, like everything else in the country at the moment, it has suffered delay thanks to the endless, incessant, dreary rain. Sound like a pick me up? The rain isn’t. The EP is. And that was part of the problem. Folk often tends to come in two flavours; withdrawn and melancholic or cheery and uplifting. Too often the latter category is irritatingly merry, if that’s possible? I may just be necessarily dour. Indeed, it is the acts that manage to blend and juxtapose rousing introspection that stick in the memory. Think Ben Howard, Johnny Flynn, Mumford and Stornoway. Matt Norris fall into the cheery category. It just so happens that the watermark for irritatingly cheery is inversely proportional to standing water levels, if you see where I’m coming from…

Anyway, enough of that. We make our own weather after all. Matt Norris found The Moon back in 2009. Norris met Tom Macoll at Edinburgh University. Dave Law, Helen Cookson and Dale Birrel all joined through various other connections. There is something unquestionably Scottish captured in their sound. It feels as though bagpipes could easily join the rest of the, already diverse, instrumentation on the record. There’s everything from accordian and mandolin to fiddle and flute on display here. It’s all capped off my Norris’ rich vocal, vital in any and all folk bands.

Eyes Of A Storm is a rather fitting starting point for the EP. It’s a simple, minimalist piece. Strings and gentle brass underpin Norris’ vocal as he tells a tale of coming of age and coming together. Roots Below begins in equally disarming manner. But there’s a difference. This piece is tinged with sorrow. As it speaks of a broken relationship so a rawer edge is revealed. The instrumentation picks up, and then there’s a suitable duality to the vocals. You feel that the real power of the track could probably only be experienced live. This is also true of Shadow From The Sun, (again with the apt weather metaphors). There’s no time wasted in cranking up the passion and intensity. As Norris sings “I will run” you can feel the folky goodness coursing through your veins. The Shallows is an altogether eerier piece. The 5-piece harmony that opens up is menacingly dense and enveloping. Release comes in the form of the delicately plucked guitar that dominates the second half. Norris speaks of the intricacies of time and the dangers of becoming stagnant, a warning to us all perhaps.