Matrimony
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Matrimony

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | SELF

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Band Folk Americana

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"Matrimony 'The Storm & The Eye' Review 8.9/10"

James and Ashlee Brown are married, and they’re singing about it. And playing the fool out of their instruments. And writing some unforgettable songs, songs you can live in, songs that seem sometimes to have been released like a butterfly fresh from its cocooned haven, sometimes like a bird set aflame by the burning bush itself.
I was pretty much sold at the first note and line when Ashlee’s Innocence Mission-meets-Kum-by-yah-around-a-campire voice announced “You conquered me when you let me be,” a sentiment to which commitment phobes the world over can cling. The first track “Last Love” is a happy, rollicking kind of grass roots homage to a love that’s gone right; true love is plucked from fairy tales and plunked smack dab into real life. Marriage does not seem half as “mission: impossible” with lines like
You’re my first love
you’re my last love
though I’m young I’ll never
outgrow my love for you.
James takes a turn on “Flee or Fight” with shades of early Simon and Garfunkel (I am always a fan of woah-woah-woah’s), singing forlornly of a lost relationship. Then, mid-song, the sun breaks through the clouds on the platform where you‘ve been waiting, the train suddenly arrives and June and Johnny are beckoning you to get on as a banjo and hammer dulcimer pick up the pace. Interesting lyricism, declarations of freedom, and contentment in the journey are your travel guides:
I’m on the road less traveled by
I feel at home on the path unknown.
But you have not pegged this band yet: the song “More” sails into the sound waves with a kind of banjoed sixties-pop feel. Relatable and unpretentious, you are found following the admonition of Ashlee’s transcendent voice, “Hold your head up high don’t you tell us lies, when more, all you really want is more, to get you through the night”.
The title track “The Storm and The Eye” sufficiently fulfills the notion of a place of calm in the midst of turbulence: interesting choral singing, clapping and staccato Waterboys-esque “We will not be lovers” violin contrast moments of still voice. Again, understanding lines like “to be weak is to be human/ to be humble is to gain” leap out and grab the conscience.
In keeping, James is back on the sort of narrative/confessional, “One last dance.” Cupid’s arrows seem pointed in another direction-the lover of our souls.
“Master take me in for I am sore
honestly I can tell you I’ve been running from my fears…
I have turned my back on hopeless romance
I have conjured up one last dance.
Ashlee successfully “aahhs” the ship into shore, a drumbeat marches you off the wandering bark.
The clincher for this listening affair, and what things seem to have been building toward, lies in the last track “Who Is Your God,” whose intensity won’t let you be. The hammer dulcimer pounds into your senses an urgency that the lyrics define:
Who is your god? Who has he become?
Might and spirit are at war/ the battle is not by the sword.
A stunning refrain set to piano in the key of otherworldly is the crown on the entire project. Ashlee sings from the depths to the heights-
Fire all over you
If you choose to know again
to know the truth
Fire all over you.
As an a cappella chorus echoes the finish, I am thinking of the rarity of finding songs that help alter your reality, that seem to be goodness from the inside out. Matrimony’s “The Eye and The Storm” invades your personal space–sometimes delicately tapping you on the shoulder, sometimes pulling the rug out from under your feet. This partnership seems divine indeed, its vows sung holy, its promises fulfilled. - The Blue Indian


"Matrimony 'The Storm & The Eye' Review"

"Both strong singers in their own right, the combination of their vocals can be aurally mesmerizing. Along with solid songwriting is the perfect production to allow the voices to shine and acoustic notes to come through clearly. Songs about falling in love perfectly match the couple's emotions. "Last Love" starts the song on an upbeat note with Ashlee singing, only to be followed by "Flee or Flight," an acoustic, finger-picking sonic blanket with the warm vocals of Jimmy Brown painting the picture until Ashlee joins him as the music picks up tempo. Jimmy's Irish influence comes through in the mandolin and organ of "More." Both artists have enough talent to release something solid on their own, but the combination is over the top. I wish I heard music this good on major labels. It's kind of Charlotte's version of She & Him. One of the best albums I've heard this year." - Creative Loafing - Jeff Hahne


"NC Break Out Band"

"this band, which just formed in december, is a collaboration between jimmy brown of Airspace and ashlee hardee of Flagship, two indie pop/rock/folk veterans who have joined forces to dive into the ever-growing indie folk scene. their sound is similar to a more heavily outfitted and produced Bowerbirds, though some of their tracks are more pop-y than others. their six-track pre-release, The Storm & the Eye, bodes well for their future, and with each additional listen, we just get that much more pumped about this charlotte, NC-based breakout group."- - Sansculottes


"Couple finds musical happiness within local band Matrimony"

When musician Jimmy Brown first proposed to his girlfriend and fellow musician, Ashlee Hardee, the couple knew it would be difficult to have any kind of relationship if the singer-songwriters were both trying to have successful tours. They'd never see each other — an idea they didn't like the thought of. So, it made sense for them to put any solo ideas aside and instead join hands in Matrimony — marriage, and the name of their band.
The couple, who has now been married for three months, is currently based in Charlotte. Earlier this year, they tried their hands at moving to London, but the expenses there were too much. After playing several festivals and getting their songs on radio, the duo decided to move back to the States, though they would still like to have a European presence as much as they can.
"We'll definitely be going back [to Europe] next summer to play festivals again," says Brown, who moved to the United States from Ireland five years ago. "We also have some labels interested, but I'd like to get the band up and running before we do any showcases for them."
Formed in December 2009, the band has one release — a six-song album entitled, The Eye & The Storm. Ashlee's brother, Jordan, used to play bass with Brown — that's how the two originally met. "The first time we met, we actually wrote a song together," Brown says.
"We had plenty of songs, so we wanted to give people more than just an EP so they could get an idea of what we were doing," Brown says of the debut disc. "Six of them came out really good. We're planning on doing another album in the summer, but we want to have everything performed live a lot so we're comfortable with them. We have about eight new songs that we're playing now." They hope to record a sophomore effort next year.
While each has an established music background — Brown with the band Airspace and Hardee Brown with Flagship — they knew they wanted to have a band. Brown says it makes it easier than having to teach people the songs every time they want to perform.
Rotating casts of musicians have been narrowed down, and while they've locked in a drummer and bassist to become part of the band, they're still in search of a multi-instrumentalist/singer to round things out.
"I think when we recorded — the way the songs were written were for piano and guitar," Brown says. "We didn't feel like the energy was there though, so we s tarted adding more instruments. We're at the stage where it's grown, and we like the energy when we have a band and it doesn't feel the same without them."
Brown and Hardee do their songwriting separately, before completing a song together — usually what they bring to the table is 75 to 90 percent finished. While their album could be considered a brand of folk, having the full band brings depth to the music and fills out the sound.
"I think we're trying to bring in more drum and bass grooves so it's not the same backbeat," Brown says. "Our main goal is just to be real. We're not trying to sound like anybody else. We just want to make really honest songs about things that we actually think about or care about. I think people try to make a Radiohead album or get attention of record labels, but we just want to do our thing.
"We'll make the music we want to make and hopefully people will like it." - Creative Loafing - Jeff Hahne


"Matrimony"


"A captivating blend of acoustic instruments, cutting edge songwriting, and good production. Might be the best new name I’ve heard out of Charlotte this year! " - Martin Anderson WNCW Radio Music Director


"Best New Band"

"It’s one of the area’s best new bands. Belfast native/Charlotte transplant Jimmy Brown heads up this outfit, which features male-female vocals, acoustic strings (banjo, violin, mandolin, bouzouki), backing shouts and keyboards in a stew that occasionally echoes the Arcade Fire’s musical recipe." - Charlotte Observer


Discography

The Storm & The Eye - Self Released July 2010

Photos

Bio

Matrimony formed in December 09 out of a common desire to make good, honest music. Their goal is to write songs about things that actually matter and to play them with as much heart as they can.