It says something that in the three years since With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie came my way it has never yet found itself filed alongside its fellow musical platters but has remained lurking in rarefied company next to the stereo all this time. That speaks volumes especially in a house that sometimes feels more like an old school record shop that a place of dwelling. What I’m trying to say in my clumsy way is that it is an album that has aged brilliantly and set the benchmark very high for Matt to follow.
Many disparate and intriguing factors give an album its unique personality and With Wolves… is no exception. It may be the years of experience writing for and fronting The Lucky Strikes, it could be having award winning producer Andy Bell on board and having such an array of names from Ben Nicholls (The Full English, Seth Lakeman,) Toby Kearney (The New Puritans,) Neil McSweeney and Lucy Farrell around him is never going to hurt. But when you strip away all of those lauded factors away it comes down to one simple fact. Boulter writes brilliant songs.
They are songs filled with grace and a slow majesty, an accessible nature and a wonderful narrative. Songs peopled by a cast of characters and miscreants who populate the shores of the Thames Delta, relocated Hemmingway stories set to score that Dylan would have been more than happy to put his name to.
It has often been noted that when compared to the wide open spaces and wonderful mythology of America, Britain in modern song can’t compare with its majesty and mystery, but Boulter manages to weave tales that mix the great American novel with a quintessentially Englishness, the romance of the west with the darker reality and everydayness of our own familiar streets.
It is glorious achievement, which reveals itself through understated song writing and compelling stories, deceptively simple threads and wonderfully poetic visions. A13 Revisited? Okay, maybe not.