Matt Arthur, the self-described obsessive guitarist based out of Philadelphia, PA, has released his debut LP, The Circle That We’re In and it can only be described as an emotional journey that is as unique and captivating as it is infectious and pleasant.
With Arthur’s main inspirations being renowned guitarists SRV and Django Reinhardt, listeners will be treated to some of the most interesting and thought-provoking guitar work that comes to mind in recent memory. It’s been a good while since someone’s guitar playing has made me feel so much emotion, but where this album shines it’s brightest is when Arthur lets his innate ability shine through on his acoustic guitar. It creates a mellow, ambient atmosphere that keeps you entertained and engaged without sounding too empty, and definitely kept me hooked throughout the album’s 10 songs.
I actually met Matt Arthur over the summer of 2016. I walked into a recording studio I considered doing some work at as he was finishing up a session with one of the engineers at the studio. I sat there in silence and listened to the songs the 2 of them were working together to produce, and as both an engineer and a listener I was instantly hooked to the unique sound they were creating. As they finished up their session, I expressed my admiration toward Matt and his music and we exchanged information. A few months down the line, he approached me with the finished product of some of those songs I had heard in the studio that same night that eventually became The Circle That We’re In.
The Circle That We’re In Tracklist:
1) A New Day
2) Come On Back Home
3) A Cloud of Smoke
4) Gone Livin
5) Mountain Air
6) Girl You’re a Smilin’ Waste
7) The Circle That We’re In
8) Al-Feta Zay
9) Feelin’ Like a Leader
10) The Sky Flys
The album starts off with the percussion heavy track, “A New Day”. Rhythm tracks drenched in in all sorts of effects mixed with a solid guitar riff and solo are the perfect way to open the album. It’s fairly heavy and interesting in all the right ways, and then the vocals come in with a very Jack White-esque vibe which bring a certain vulnerability and accessibility to all of Arthur’s songs.
The following track and lead single “Come on Back Home” is a very Rolling Stones inspired track and is a little closer to what the rest of the album represents. While it’s definitely a more laid back track than “A New Day” it still drives home solid back-beats and excellent guitar work mixed with catchy pop sounds in the chorus.
Other standout tracks on the album are the title track, and “Al-Feta Zay” which is honestly quickly becoming a favorite of mine. The title track, “The Circle That We’re In” is another heavier track, but the vocals actually take precedence over the music for the most part which produces a really exciting and compelling song that I could easily picture getting radio play. “Al-Feta Zay” on the other hand is basically a polar opposite. It’s light, jazzy, and free form and half the track is played over audio clips from The Sopranos. This track is arguably the most emotional in terms of Arthur’s guitar playing and vocal performance and really creates an atmosphere that I continually find myself wanting to go back to time and time again.
The Circle That We’re In is a great album. Matt Arthur has taken the time to invite into his world with a collection of extremely polished songs that are real and true to who he is as an artist without running the risk of exiling certain listeners. It features great musicality mixed with some very interesting vocals and it’s all wrapped up on a very well-produced package.
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