Matt Corby is an Australian singer-songwriter; with five EPs already behind him, his debut album Telluric was released earlier this month. Lesser known is that he originally stepped into the music sphere back in 2007, as a runner up on Australian Idol. Since then, his eagerly awaited debut has been three years in the making (after scrapping his first attempt two years ago), and bears little resemblance to some of his previous works.
Corby’s more popular tracks include “Resolution” released in 2013, and “Brother” released in 2011. Both the tracks demonstrate Corby’s soothing yet wide ranging vocals, “Brother”, a more emotive yet aggressive style, in contrast to “Resolution” which softly builds emotive vocals alongside layered acoustics and a subtle beat.
Telluric meaning ‘a terrestrial (earth-like) planet’ presents Corby’s change of direction in the production process of the album. Rather than allowing his vocals to lead the album, much of the attention is placed on the instrumental side of his music. Thought and purpose has been weaved into every aspect of the production process, Corby focussing his attention on the layering within each track, however causing the vocals to rather take a back seat.
Unlike past works, Corby’s vocals now intertwine with the music rather than stand apart like a separate entity, and the tracks build from frustration to calm serenity, but all in a breezy and chilled atmosphere. The album starts with “Belly Side Up“, the track subtly builds with a simple bass and gentle percussion. The track is initially led by Corby’s vocals, which calmly guide us through the soft backing track; however this provides more questions as to what we can expect of the album.
The song is followed by the leading single on the album “Monday“, the song again mirrors this gradual layering starting initially with just Corby’s vocals over a soft choir harmony. The song is quite stripped back and thus exemplifies Corby’s vocal range, his distinctive falsetto and talks of how Corby never felt lost; he “just never chose to go home“. The lyrics therefore portray another depth to the track, and an unexplained story behind its sound.
“Knife Edge” contrasts completely from its predecessor, starting with a low and repetitive bass-line, it has a retro blues feel. The vocals however mirror the likes of Maverick Sabre and Daniel Merriweather. “Oh Oh Oh” is a more repetitive, simple track which felt slightly like an interlude quite early on in the album, and was one where I felt the vocals started to get lost behind the instrumental focus of the album.
The track “Wrong Man” uses the deeper tone in Corby’s voice and really exemplifies his efforts to create laid back, easy listening. The lyrics however paint a more emotive picture, the idea of Corby feeling lost and betrayed “And all the greatest hands that I would hold in my old times/I had to let them go/And now they wanna come and sell you what you already own“. The lyrics themselves are a rather surprising part of the track due to the sheer contrast of what seems like anger and pain, with such chilled back music.
“Sooth Lady Wine” the second single to be released on the album again echoes a retro blues theme. It is the kind of track you can imagine being played in a bar in the 60s. In some ways there is slight resemblance to Paolo Nutini’s Caustic Love, in that Corby has explored this retro genre, however Corby’s need to experiment with instruments and production tends to overwhelm the vocals, causing some of the must needed emotion to be lost. This is also more evident in “Do You No Harm“.
The album then begins to wind down; tracks “Why Dream” and “Empires Attraction” are gentler, with the use of a soft piano melody and mellow vocals. In contrast the track on the album most similar to Corby’s usual style, and one of the more heartfelt songs was the penultimate “Good To Be Alone“. Starting with a simple guitar solo, and demonstrating Corby’s haunting vocals, the track reminds us of his ability to capture emotion so soulfully yet make it seem blissfully easy.
Telluric is an unusual debut for Matt Corby, unlike any of his past work he attempts more instrumental experimentation, and ventures into retro sixties sounds. Corby is able to produce a chilled back album, which is very easy listening. However, where the album takes risks, it lacks Corby’s emotive appeal, and his vocal range and strength is forced to take a back seat. In comparison to Corby’s more impressive EP’s, Telluric leaves no memorable impression which is a true shame when we have seen evidence of Corby’s capabilities in the past.
Matt Corby’s Telluric is out now via Universal Music Australia, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Becky Spear