Matt Joe Gow grew up in the deep south of New Zealand in a town with bad weather and good music: Dunedin. Surrounded by music, he was encouraged to pick up a guitar at an early age, and after traveling the world, Matt moved to Melbourne, Australia, drawn by its culture and vibrant music scene. He formed a band, The Dead Leaves, and in 2009 released this his debut album ‘The Messenger’. Produced by multi-Aria award-winner Nash Chambers, and featuring contributions from Jim Moginie of Midnight Oil, and iconic Australian country guitarist Bill Chambers, it is an album which manages to mix country and rock with good time Americana and is rally easy to enjoy the very first time it is played and it keeps getting better after that.
The album commences with Matt saying, “Off we go”, and then we are into the high-paced thundering freight train which is “Come To Mama, She Say”. With driving drums, a walking bass, banjo, and slide making an impact, traditional organ, and a heavily riffed acoustic it is still Matt’s vocals which are front and centre, warm and baritone in approach. It is certainly a million miles removed from “The Dunedin Sound”, and never sounds like a debut release as he is already full of confidence. I have only seen Matt play once, and that was as a solo acoustic performer, and while he is definitely comfortable in that format, he really comes alive when he has a band with him which enables him to really get his vision out there. Songs like “Come What May” are a complete contrast with harmonica and mandolin becoming more important, and as one works through the album one understands that while he sits happily within the genre there are multiple styles within that, and he is more than happy to embrace all of them. This album made a lot of people within the Victoria
music scene in particular sit up and pay attention, and all these years later one can easily see why as this is a delight from beginning to end.
by Kev Rowland