Nikki Matheson - Invisible Angel
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Nikki Matheson
Invisible Angel
Self-released (www.nikkimatheson.com)

The best singer-songwriters draw from their own experiences as well as from the work of their musical ancestors. On Invisible Angel, Nikki Matheson does both of these well. She was born in Canada, and worked as a professional musician in New York City and France before returning recently to Vermont. From the mix of those experiences - along with traditional songs from Ireland, France, and the US - Matheson created an appealing collection of songs.

All of the originals are keepers. Most of them explore love, both rock-solid relationships and broken hearts. These songs are simple without turning trite, personal without being self-absorbed. The best of the bunch is the story told in "Just One in a Small Few." The narrator is a French woman fathered by an American soldier whom she never met who shares her mother's love and loneliness. The closing words, "Mama cried too," are appropriately chilling.

The covers here are also well done. I'm always open to hearing a new version of any song by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia, and here Matheson covers "To Lay Me Down" (which the pair wrote the same day they wrote "Ripple"). Robert Shindell adds perfect harmonies to the convey the imagery: "To lay me down / With my head in sparklin’ clover / Let the world go by, like the clouds a’streamin’."

The CD closes with an epic rendition of Ola Belle Reed's "High on a Mountaintop," a simple folk song from Appalachia. Eschewing the traditional bluegrass renditions of this song, Matheson stretches the tune through many timbres, opening with solo vocals, winding through some interesting electronics, and capping things off with mournful electric guitar. The lyrics muse, "I wonder if you ever think of me." With this record, Nikki Matheson assures that we will indeed think of her as we listen to this recording and anticipate the next one. - Greg Harness

CD available from cdRoots

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cd cover

Listen
"Just One in a Small Few"

 

CD available from cdRoots

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