Who is Matthew Perryman Jones? [Insert Chandler reference here.] I’m not sure who he is, being that “Swallow the Sea” is the first album I’ve heard of his. But color me impressed.

The work is very similar, vocally and lyrically, to the work of Ryan Adams, but it lacks the bitterness, the edge, or the irony. Jones is more content to allow the songs to speak for themselves, without inserting an overpowering personality into them. This is much appreciated, because too many songwriters these days seem to feel the need to add something other than the music. Jones’ work is straightforward: Very high quality songs, delicate piano and guitar, drums that hang in the background and provide momentum without force, and above it all, vocals that rise and fall, leading the music that trails just behind them. It’s the kind of traditional songwriting we don’t hear that much of in these days of postpunk and indie rock. Matthew Perryman Jones crafts perfect pop Americana, and has succeeded in writing one of the most thoroughly listenable albums of the year. There are few (if any) weak cuts, and only one cover–his take on “Motherless Child” is novel. I’ve heard the song played as a folk tune, I’ve heard it as a classic rock tune (most notably by Clapton), but I’ve never heard it as a true lament, which it is here–a sad, but hard, take on the traditional. If you like music that puts you in a calm, pensive mood, or music to watch rain to, this album is for you. Produced by Neilson Hubbard (Glenn Phillips, Garrison Starr).

And, above all else, this album should make the listener ask: How the fuck does this guy not have a record deal?

For fans of: Ryan Adams, Bell X1, Coldplay, U2.

Tracks removed at label request.

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