The shuffling nature of The Dark Leaves, the latest from Matt Pond PA brims with a distinct optimism, if only musically. The manner in which he delivers his warbling lyrics above heartfelt acoustic pop is a little bewildering, but for some reason, when the whole package is delivered together it works with alarming effciency.
Tracks like “Running Wild” and “Remains” rumble along with as much steam as one can gather in acoustically-inclined pop, Pond’s attempts to elevate his songs to something epic deserve credit. When tracks like “Sparrows” aren’t catching you off guard with their loose, jangly affability, “Winter Fawn” wanders with the poise of a transient on a mission. Sure, there are points on The Dark Leaves which sound hollow and patchy, thanks largely to underproduction of the cellos and violas on the record, but for the most part, The Dark Leaves gets where it wants to be.
The standout on The Dark Leaves may very well be the classic, dusty country waltz of “Brooklyn Fawn.” Here, Pond allows his tunes to breathe far and wide. And a track like “Brooklyn Fawn” wouldn’t seem out of place serving as the set-up during a romantic comedy or maybe on an over-hyped teenage drama. Yet when the cello finally kicks in, and gets it’s only fair due on The Dark Leaves, Pond allows his tunes to become accesible yet still remain honest. It’s a rare quality, but one that The Dark Leaves pulls off rather well.
By Joshua Kloke[Rating: 3/5]