Iain Matthews,
Pure & Crooked
(Gold Castle, 1990)

The simplest way to explain Iain Matthews' Pure & Crooked is to say that, sometimes, time is not a healer. The songs can have a strange edge at times and there is a distance in them as they tell their dark tales.

Matthews (percussion, vocals, background vocals and acoustic guitar) is joined by several talented musicians on this recording. Matthews' vocals vary, at times rich and at others more sparse as best fits the song.

"Like Dominoes" is a delightful light pop song, with energetic music and dark lyrics blending together. The strangeness grows with "Mercy Street" -- the music sets the mood early on and continues it until the last note. "A Hardly Innocent Mind" is off kilter, or twists you off kilter somehow.

The lyrics of "New Shirt (Tonight)" are disconnected from the emotions you would expect to go with them, but the music gives no sense they are supposed to be there. You can almost hear someone falling in slow motion in "Bridge of Cherokee." "Busby's Babes" starts and ends with audio clips from a football game, while the rest of the song is a powerful a cappella tribute to the dead. There is a quiet pain in "Rains of '62" as it carries the words of an outsider looking back.

A relationship is over in "Say No More," and the title is the song's plea. "Perfect Timing" also comes after the relationship is over, but before the love has faded. Relationships are the focus of "Out of My Range," but the images are varied and not intact. The CD ends with "This Town is No Lady," and it too has a strange blend of images woven around Manhattan.

Pure & Crooked describes the songs that Iain Matthews has put together on this CD. The songs keep twisting things so they end up at sharp angles to reality, and they tend to pull the listener along. It is an interesting experience all said and I would recommend it if you don't mind bouncing sideways.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 19 June 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.