There's something timeless about the pairing of a guy and a guitar. Quite a simple concept, which can go so terribly wrong, or be so judicious as to reach into your soul. Matt's Walter's latest release The Moon, Stars and People doesn't set a foot wrong, but falls short of a soul revolution. I've been sitting on this CD for a while now, struggling to articulate its peaks and pitfalls. The truth is, it's a fantastic album. But my first listen left me less than impressed, with my treble levels up way too high, giving him an undeserved too-much-strumming-a la-Ben-Lee sound. After making the equaliser adjustments, I ensconced myself in the currents of the recording.

  

There are some serious tidal shifts as the tracks progress, with the frenzied riffs and keys underlining the choler of "She came by water", "Cold", and "Good morning night". While the melodic, slower tracks, like "Back home", "Simple" and "Tell you", have a vocal focus, with perfect a balance of reverb to give the oft whispery tones added strength.

  

Layered guitars and almost indiscernible keys, bass, and predominantly snare drums, provide body to the climaxes. The song writing is mature, but still somewhat teen-angst driven. "I don't want you to be simple/ simple is boring" and "We all sink in the same boat" sounding simultaneously kitsch but honest, and juvenile but heartfelt. The lullaby tracks are great, but not quite reaching the brilliance of an Augie March track, despite the use of violins and odd percussion. To me, the more up-tempo tracks book-ending the album are Walters real strengths.

  

As the all important second release to a debut that got national commercial airplay, made at still 17/18 years old, the record is amazing. It's enjoyable in itself, and shows promise for future directions. For an on-again-off-again process, only slightly smoother than the lounge room recorded first release, Like Therapy, the album runs surprisingly smooth as a compilation, although "World won't wait" seems a strange choice to close on. Troy Trigwell's (John Butler, Killing Heidi) influence is obvious, with the production quality supporting the threadbare areas of the CD, and pulling together a great second release for Walter.

  

It's one of those albums where a second or third listen is required, with the onion effect demonstrating just how good it is. When people ask, my reply is "I like it heaps, but...". I only hope that seeing him live, or perhaps his next release, will erase all buts.

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