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Phantom Birds


Artist: Matt Berry
Label: Acid Jazz Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 18 September 2020

Inspired in part by a fascination with Bob Dylan’s trio of Nashville albums and the manner in which they were recorded, Matt Berry's new LP, Phantom Birds, represents a collection of songs pertaining to regular everyday life, from a personal perspective...

This is the first time I've listened to an album by Matt Berry. In fact, I have to come clean and admit that I wasn't aware that he was also a musician but this is his tenth album (six of which have been solo projects). My first thought, before even hitting play, was that maybe this would be a comedy album. Those thoughts soon disappeared the second the first track, 'Something In My Eye' started.

But as I became engrossed in the music, the lyrics seemed to be sneering at me. Was Berry having a laugh, wrapped up in a serious and well produced album? Some of the lyrics would certainly indicate that he was pulling the listener's leg with his dry sense of humour. How could anyone, in all seriousness, add the lyrics "pack of pies" to any song and think they could get away with it?. Or "Just like your father's, covered in clowns". What's that all about? It's lyrics like this that take you on another journey. Just what does that mean? And why is it so prominent in Berry's mind that he felt the need to use it in a song. Surely he's grinning at the absurdity of it all.

There's one thing certain from listening to this: Berry loves lists. 'Take a Bow' and 'Covered In Clowns' (constructed from an assortment of unrelated instances, with the highlight being, as Berry explains: "I auditioned for the director John Landis who offered me the part there and then, only to deny ever meeting me some weeks later...").

It's an engaging and never dull collection of bizarre lyrics wrapped up in memorable music.


Nick Smithson

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