Matt McMahon & Carl Dewhurst



4 stars

You hear the hours and years of communing across so many varied projects, before finally coming together as a duo. Given the vast array of idioms at their mutual disposal, the common ground upon which they settle might surprise. Matt McMahon (piano) and Carl Dewhurst (acoustic and electric guitars) choose to converse on elegiac songs, where the focus stays tightly upon beauty of line, and wistful harmonies. McMahon’s love of Irish traditional music is represented by May Morning Dew and Summer Is Coming, and it’s almost if these set the tone for the originals, because all are misted with restraint and shine with tender lyricism.

Yet so effortlessly does the music unfold that you never sense they’ve backed themselves into a corner. They are like two poets finding the confines of the sonnet form a catalyst for creativity rather than manacle. Those who have mainly heard Dewhurst using his electric guitar as a textural device in recent times will be reminded of his gift for improvising gorgeous melodies – an ability to match McMahon’s own. They nod to their jazz backgrounds with a bittersweet Moonlight in Vermont, and to their careers as free-improvisers with the appropriately titled Pretty.