It’s cold and rainy here in Vancouver, BC and there’s no surprises there. As a passionate member of my city, I’ve grown accustom to the frequency of rain and clouds, as the last time I saw a heavy snow storm was probably back in 2008. The weather is mild, and the seasons tend to blend as one. There’s a defined heat in the summer that contrasts the somewhat cold winters. Nonetheless, it can be difficult to differentiate the four season here on the west coast. When I first heard Place to Stand by the Montreal indie folk artist, Matt Tomlinson, it was most likely sunny. I assume dusk was around the corner, and everything he said was tailored to Vancouver. Ironically, it’s recorded in Eastern Canada. The entire geography of the country spans multiple themes, and changes once a time zoned is crossed. The beauty of Place to Stand is that the intimacy of the album clicks with every listener, no matter where they’re from.
Matt Tomlinson makes music to inspire. His Andrew Bird-esque sound is very prominent, and much like AB’s music, it’s an emotional roller coaster. The way he works the instruments to his liking is amazing. On the opener, and in the French version, “Philosopher”, showcases how much talent Tomlinson has. Every pluck of the guitar and note held by the violin is gripping. He croons his way through the track that only leads the way for his other passionate tunes. “Mile End Girl” is a folk tune with a beautiful harmony and a catchy hook. It doesn’t feel cheesy, but simple. The simplicity and delivery is natural, much like a personal favourite, “Evening Train”. I can make that statement of a song being my favourite with a handful of tracks on Place to Be. Tomlinson has found a shtick and has ran with it.
“Evening Train” has perfect mood to it. Somewhat cheerful, but more reflective; like driving home in the suburbs and along the border of a city. Although you never enter the core, you still grasp the atmosphere of what’s around you. It’s a great tune. I can’t get enough of the Steve Reich inspired opening on “Take My Hand”. The vibes strike a chord with me, and gives off a Sufjan Stevens sound. The sailing acoustic guitar meshes with the claps that resemble the drums so well. The songs presented here are so singable, especially the “La la’s” on the final few notes of “Take My Hand”. I can see the live performance of this song mesmerizing audience members with the droning of the few sounds.
A track that doesn’t exactly fit is “Fooling Around”. In my brief conversation with Tomlinson, he mentioned he worked on film soundtracks. I have the sense that this song should have been placed in a closing scene of a feel-good movie instead of Tomlinson’s close to heart pieces. The piano riff at the end is pretty astonishing, but I question some of the composition as the song came across as forced. That’s where “Northern Song” gives a perfect lead into the grand finale of “Wondering Why”. It’s subtle sheen is a great way to wipe away the minor mishaps and prepare the listener for a final ‘Hurrah’. “Wondering Why” gave me chills every time I heard the song. I’m getting chills right now thinking of it. It’s a track that sums up the entire album, the entire, and the entire musicianship of Tomlinson as it grows and grows until the final note has rung out. He’s saved his best energy for last, as the closer brings Place to Be to a fulfilling end.
Matt Tomlinson brings his A game for this album. He finds his calling for music, and runs with a theme until the end. It’s a relate-able one, as we’ve all had questions about it. He takes the idea of connecting with people and what the future holds for us, and forms a beautiful relaxing shed about our heads until the 39 minutes of songs are finished. Place to Be deserves more attention, as it is strictly underrated. Be sure to give it a listen, and share your thoughts on this LP with us!
Stream the full album here:
Also, be sure to check out his website here at: http://www.matttomlinson.com/