Mat Gibson
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Mat Gibson


Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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"Forest Fire"

Americana is a style of music which is not without its difficulties. Even its definition is troublesome: given its basis in a loose grouping of American roots musics, it could be argued that Americana is less a coherent concept than it is a convenient label for a radio format. If like Mat Gibson you enter into all this from a British rather than American perspective, things can be more complicated still.

On the basis of his new mini-album Forest Fire, it would seem that Gibson has wisely avoided confronting these issues and instead focused fully on honing his songcraft. The result is a sober and serious set of songs which will prove a challenging listen for casual audiences but which will reward those who share Gibson’s willingness to immerse himself in Americana’s complexities.

In the spirit of his predecessors Gibson’s songs are steeped in the atmosphere of North America’s natural environment, although it is not the US but rather the wilderness of north-eastern Canada which have provided Gibson with his muse. His two years living in Quebec explain the tendency towards lonely acoustic landscapes on Forest Fire. Especially given the sparse production by Rowland Prytherch, these songs channel a sense of isolation and introspection which some will relish even as others find it a little oppressive.

Although likely a real treasure for committed fans of its style, Forest Fire will be a more doubtful draw for a general audience. The more dramatic feel of ‘Yonder Burning Trees’ is the most accessible cut here, but in large part the songs can be a little one-paced to make for easy listening. For Gibson’s kindred spirits, though, there will be much to enjoy in moments like the one in ‘Jonah’ when Gibson mourns over piano, glockenspiel and his own guitar that, ‘you’ve dug your own damn grave’. If that’s not Americana, what is? - The Line of Best Fit

"**** Review of Forest Fire"

Five years ago homegrown songwriter Mat Gibson released a fairly generic country homage called 'Home Movie'. A spell in Canada seems to have changed both his outlook and his music, as suggested by the starkness and wide-open spaces in luminous follow-up 'Forest Fire'. **** CLUBHOUSE

There's the occasional clang of electric guitar, but mostly this is a lovely acoustic record shaded with strings and a little slide. Gibson sounds positively Robin Pecknold-like on the outstanding "Icebergs", his double-tracked vocal providing some euphoric choral uplift. - UNCUT

"Americana UK Review"

Confident debut from British artist who’s done his Americana homework.

With eleven self-penned songs played with a confidence that doesn’t betray any beginner’s nerves this album is immediately attractive. Opening song “I Don’t Think I’d Ever fall in love With You Again” leaps from the starting gate with a nice drum shuffle and twanged guitar intro. Gibson’s voice is strong and the song has some great hooks throughout. Ryan Adams circa Heartbreaker comes to mind here and other parts of the album reflect this. “Slow Train” is another impressively tuneful song with honky tonk guitars and a very memorable refrain. “Break My Broken Heart” stomps along sounding like a youthful Neil Young at the Grand Ole Opry. “Tennessee Skies” is a slow, fractured country waltz harking back to the Burritos’ southern soul influences with pedal steel and Hammond organ and female harmonising from the delightfully named Brandy Barksdale. Other ballads on the album demonstrate the empathy the band have with Gibson’s songs with some very tasty guitar from Dominic Keshavarz and sturdy backing from Robert Hann and Tom Scheponik (from Philadelphia band Gringo Motel, who, according to their website, know how to have a really good time at their shows). Gibson, who is English, recorded the album in Philadelphia and the presence of homegrown musicians seems to give a depth, authority and authenticity to the sound. Gibson’s lyrics in the main are about the American experience, places, trains, girls, but on the relatively unadorned acoustic song “Home Movie,” a moving tale of failed relationships, missed birthdays and reminiscence he reaches up to the pathos that someone like Loudon Wainwright might achieve.
With the exception of the closing bonus track, a Beatlesque romp that probably goes down well in a live setting but is out of place here, this is a very impressive album. - Paul Kerr

"Overplay Review"

"A homage to the golden age of country rock." That's how this US/UK outfit describe the eleven steel guitar-kissed tunes on 'Home Movie'. The great thing is, though, that theirs is a much more eclectic sound than this statement would have us believe. Sure, there are plenty of enticing nods to The Band, Gram Parsons and CSNY, but it's those unexpected flashes of people like REM, The Animals or The Beatles that make this album such an entertaining ride.

Take the jittery opener, "I Don't Think I'll Ever Fall In Love With You Again". The bluegrass swagger comes with a sly Ryan Adams vocal and the kind of edgy not-quite-blues riff that veers close to the Slavic stomp of Gogol Bordello. Similarly, "Lay Me Down (To Rest, To Sleep)" gets a little extra snake-hipped seduction with its Stonesy shuffle. "Endless Motion Picture Show" could be a 'Monster'-era REM grunge ballad, while bonus track "I'm A Loser" lays on the harmonies and Rickenbacker jangle to end up bursting with Beatley goodness.

But sometimes country is country. And from the cloud-bursting ballads of "Tennessee Skies", "Home Movie" and "Blue Morning" to the hoe-down meltdown of the insanely happy, "Break My Broken Heart", it's clear that this band's soul is Stetson-shaped. Likewise, "Drive These Blues Away" is a big manly cuddle of Johnny Cash-lite and the bubbly skiffle of "Lonesome Highway" could be a more grown-up version of The Littlest Hobo theme tune. These are all powerful songs, but it's Mat and The Hearts' desire to stretch the boundaries, that could really see them cross over without compromise. - Overplay

"Maverick Country Music Magazine Review"

We all love our Americana here at Maverick but Mat
Gibson, a young British songwriter, has become so
engrossed in US culture he’s actually picked up that
seductive southern twang: “Happy birthday my gal” he
sings on the title track of Home Movie; his semi-fragile tone equal measures Ryan Adams and Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes). Frequent visits to the States may well have helped hone his Americana skills. Indeed the project involves musicians from Boston and Philadelphia; the Fallen Heart’s gig circuit takes in London and New York; and a certain Tennessee princess seems a key source of inspiration. Among the many strong songs, Lonesome Highway sticks out as a simple, catchy Hank Williams style country tune, a travelogue taking in gas stations and crossroads, while Lay Me Down (To Rest, To Sleep) has a darker edge “I used to get my kicks by wrecking other people’s shit”; and Break My Broken Heart has Gram Parsons country rock written all over it. Why hide your influences when they work so well.

HK - Helen Keen


Mat Gibson - Long Goner (2012, Bandcamp)
Mat Gibson - Forest Fire (2011, Clubhouse)
Mat Gibson & The Fallen Hearts - Home Movie (2006, Self-Released)



Mat Gibson is a highly acclaimed, UK-based troubadour whose recent ‘Forest Fire’ album garnered a wealth of praise and saw him described as “a youthful Neil Young" (Americana UK) and as having a “brilliant Ryan Adams-esque voice” (For Folk’s Sake)… Mat has also been favourably compared to such luminaries as Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco fame), The Low Anthem and Woody Guthrie, high praise indeed! Mat Gibson’s new album, ‘Long Goner’, is a masterful and entrancing work. Recorded by Mat himself and producer Rowland Prytherch (Danny and The Champions of The World/The Epstein/Stornoway) in a spooky, abandoned pump house on the Thames, ‘Long Goner’ is drenched in the natural reverb of the various cavernous spaces of the house. Other musicians involved in the process include noted keyboard player and producer Sebastian Reynolds (Keyboard Choir / The Epstein) and well respected Portuguese guitarist/multi instrumentalist Joao Coutinho.

’Long Goner’ builds from the somber, after hours hymnal ‘Before the Dawn’ to a socio-political dissection of post-riots Britain in ‘Fever (In Our Eyes)’ and reaches a peak with the Neil Young circa 'On the Beach' rocker ‘Kill TV' which mines an 'Apocalypse Now' style critique of modern warfare where soldiers are shown footage of 'kills' to build morale. Aside from reflecting on events on a national and international scale Mat, in stark contrast, harks back to lost childhood in the overtly confessional 'For Ma' and finds himself in a nuclear bunker in a Nevada desert in creepy, post-apocalyptic love song 'Belly Up'. Gibson adds solace to the weight of his words in Rick Nelson-esque, sadistic crooner 'Dark Well of Sorrow'. ‘Long Goner’ concludes fittingly with a homage to a potentially tragi-heroic icon of the hostile world in rousing and sparsely-epic album closer ‘Water Bomber’.

‘Long Goner’ is an album of startling musical and thematic depth and vision. As Mat puts it himself “these songs channel the sense of despair and doom alluded to in 'Forest Fire' but this time covering a more diverse, far-reaching scope". Self-deprecating, bitingly satirical, forlorn yet wryly playful at times, Mat Gibson effortlessly articulates a commonly held, creepingly omnipotent sense of fear for what increasingly feels like an ever darkening world whilst still offering a sense of hope in the face of life’s seeming futility. Luring the listener at all times is the ever present sense of space, evoking the feeling of a large, dimly lit dive bar at 3am somewhere in the great West.

In promoting previous album ‘Forest Fire’ Mat shared stages with many other heroes of the ever growing UK Americana/folk scene such as Danny and The Champions of The World, Treetop Flyers, Stornoway, The Epstein and American stars such as Caitlin Rose, Israel Nash Gripka and Richmond Fontaine. Mat also had the honour of opening the main stage on Sunday at Oxfordshire festival institution Truck Festival with Justin Townes Earle.