Review: Matt Corby Brings Sunshine Back With "Rainbow Valley"


Folk Australian singer Matt Corby is back with brand-new album Rainbow Valley. Many things have changed in the artist's life; for instance he became a dad, and it is well known how paternity changes someone. Every emotion and unsaid thing appears in the eleven songs that make up the new record, which was influenced by artists like Bon Iver and Tame Impala.

The album opens up with "Light My Dart Up," on which Corby shows off his abilities as both instrumentalist and vocalist. Flutes and harmonies are present on the duration of the song. It widens itself in the chorus, when his sophisticated backing vocals come out. Violins are added to make the song even more introspective, and they pair well with the introspection present in the lyrics.

"I'm flying around the room, with nothing in my pocket but you."
Matt Corby wrote this in his home studio, and Rainbow Valley was named after his rural property in the Northern NSW hinterland: it all sounds very homey. Homey too is the second track "No Ordinary Life". It starts off with a piano riff and some sparkly percussions.

"You've been on the ordinary drugs, I can see that you've been trying to make it on your own...
The introspection and desperation are palpable from the first line. The song takes on a happier tone throughout, and it draws from personal experience. It seems to say that we need to break reality to understand the difference between ordinary and routine. If you are surrounded by people you love--parents, relatives, children--you cannot fall into "solitary love" anymore; you just have to "see it in the sky."

"All That I See" and "Get With The Times" are the funkiest songs on the record. The former is what I see as a political song, characterized by very deep and dark lyrics. It's almost ironic how a song made up by all this bass and rhythm can spread such a bittersweet message:

"All that I see is beautiful faces smiling at me from the darkest of places, praying for love with a gun in their hands. Can you comprehend? We're already dead..."
The metaphors in "All That I See" are juxtaposed to the psych-pop melody, and the same thing happens in "Get With The Times." It is a futuristic soul song. When it starts off, it sounds almost gospel. It goes on with the same structure as the previous track, with a lot of bass guitar and catchy drums. It is an existentialist track that questions doubts that only a father could have. It is vibe-y and personal: "That's right," he sings, "I'm looking for help, but my sun's setting and I'm never myself."

"All Fired Up," on the other hand, is a beautiful and majestic ballad. Starting with a lightly-touched piano, it continues with Matt's voice, confusing itself with the melody, singing romantic and reassuring lyrics. This could easily be a lullaby, which reveals its true nature as a love song when the chorus comes: "When you fall, I fall," he says. Corby outdid himself, since I believe "All Fired Up" is one of the most convincing tunes on the entire record. It is a very simple, linear song, but it has its charm. This track, just like the album in general, touches the listener's heart with its magic atmosphere. Each track is characterized by its own different style.

A broken record in the distance sets up the interlude "How It Ends," which anticipates the upbeat "New Day Coming." Exotic percussions go alongside Corby's voice in what I consider to be the weakest song off the album: if in the wrong person's ears, it can seem annoying and repetitive, but in its genre it is a very sophisticated track.

From track eight to the end, the most constant and mature part of the album comes. "Better" still has that funky tone to it that we already encountered in the third and fourth tracks, confirming its dedication to music in the second line: "All that's making sense to me is melody and rhythm."

The most interesting thing about "Rainbow Valley" is the transitions between one song to the next. Sometimes the separation is so violent that it leaves the listener a bit bewildered. This, for instance, happens between "Better" and "Miracle Love," the latter of which is a warm and sweet ballad. Piano is one of the stars of this production. It is complicated and, in my opinion, the best on the album; it features a rawer side of the singer's personality and vocal abilities, hearable also in the complexity of the melody and the piano part. It is not the best song lyrically, compared to the others, but melodically it shines in all its glory.

"Heavy hearts can't decide when they've had enough, so they're burning out cold."
Source. Aaron Crossman

"Elements" starts with its upbeat bass guitar, reminiscent of 70s/80s dance-funk music. More musical experiments are made: keyboard, synths, samples. Matt Corby declared more than once that he plays all the instruments in this album, and if we think about it, the work he has done is pretty impressive. From an album like this, I expected the last song to be the icing on top of the cake, but it wasn't exactly like this. It is the entire cake. I am glad he named the album after this song, because it is so genuinely pleasant to listen to. In "Rainbow Valley," birds are chirping in the background, a peaceful and chilled-out keyboard is playing, and sunshine is shining in the distance. This last track perfectly embodies the message the album wanted to spread: peace, calm, and love for music.

"Every house in the distance, they volunteer, they wanna see love, they wanna settle down now."
It is an escapist album. It describes a utopian world that contrasts the dystopian one we are living in now. It starts with a glorious song and it ends with an equally gorgeous one, and it was all Matt Corby's will to turn his life (and music) around.

I was not expecting something so different from his previous music production, but I am glad it is. The world needs some revolution, and I am glad it takes place in Matt Corby's Rainbow Valley.


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