Matthew de Zoete Bottom of the World

Hamilton, ON’s Matthew De Zoete strikes an even chord with Bottom of the World, a measured collection showcasing a fine band nurturing warm melodies. De Zoete’s voice doesn’t stick out but he knows it well, bending his clean, high tones around searching lyrics about travel and loss-charred hope. His band sound sure-footed traversing the retrospective terrain of "Pictures on the Wall,” an adult contemporary, mid-tempo dose of poppy folk with flashes of Nashville guitars floating in the mix. The song rests in De Zoete’s comfort zone more easily than "Double Barrrell Shotgun,” which recalls a Drew Yamada Super Friendz tune begging for a musical edge (more apparent on "Not on Fire,” a nice duet with Jenn Grant) rather than a soft-spoken rendering. Comparisons to Elliott Smith could be apt for De Zoete but the production of Bottom of the World lacks the gritty mystery that might accentuate this promising songwriter’s merits. (Ship)