Music Reviews

Phosphorescent Revelator

(Verve Records) Rating - 7/10

Even if his laid-back alt-country remains unchanged for two decades, Matthew Houck's first album in six years under the name Phosphorescent benefits from the slow and steady passage of time. His music may feel out of step, but it's also a pleasant balm for the spirit that never ages. And yet, for someone who's reflected on love and fatherhood in the past with such poetic grace, it's the anxiety lying within that adds gravitas to his effortless songs. Despite its resplendent use of pedal steel, Fences is a devastating portrait of marital alienation that offers little to no optimism. Impossible House doesn't fare much better, on which Houck tries to hold onto someone even if it feels unsalvageable. His arrangements, as grand as they may seem, flow with patience, designed with a simplicity that invites reflection. Maybe it's less intimate and personal than his past releases, but Revelator sure goes down easy when it's most needed.