It's fitting that Matthew and the Atlas have been opening recently for fellow neo-traditionalists Mumford and Sons across the pond -- both share a passion for that particular brand of "pub-folk": terse, tender ballads and, in turn, rollicking, foot-stomping raveups all with richly embroidered but simply displayed acoustic textures. Londoner Matthew Hegarty is the guiding creative force here, an exceptionally fine songwriter with a voice that we've described as sounding like he's been gargling regularly on an elixir of Scotch whiskey and the remains of an old ashtray.
As we await the release of a proper full-length debut in 2011, Hegarty and band deliver their second EP Kingdom of Your Own on November 1 in the U.K. -- inexplicably, no U.S. deal yet -- and the follow up to last spring's excellent "To the North" four-track. As we noted then, the shy, unassuming Hegarty and his gravelly rasp bring a well-worn, scraped and bruised authority to songs that seep into your soul one battered, wistful note at a time. Lead track "Come Out of the Woods" is the ideal place to start, a regal barstool anthem that manages to sound both classically, wistfully nostalgic and perfectly contemporary in the same husky breath.
Matthew and the Atlas - "Come Out of the Woods" (from the Kingdom of Your Own EP)
Matthew and the Atlas - "I Will Remain" (from the To the North EP)