Ian Matthews – Valley Hi

Former Fairport singer's brace of '70s albums for Elektra on one disc

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Matthews signed to Elektra as part of Plainsong. When their second album was rejected, he was offered a solo deal and placed with Monkee-turned-country-mogul Mike Nesmith to produce songs by Richard Thompson, Jackson Browne and other notables. A pleasant country-rock collection resulted, but Matthews’ voice seems underwhelmed by and unsuited to the sound. Things improve on the self-produced follow-up, with good self-penned songs amid gems by Danny Whitten, Gene Clark, Steely Dan and Honeybus where those precise, refrigerated harmonies get a chance to display some beauty?gentle, low-temperature beauty with a ’70s sheen, but beauty nonetheless.

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