Matt Stevens - Archive album review
A superfan’s collection – but very much not ‘The Essential’.
No one is arguing with Matt Stevens’ six-string credentials. The Fierce And The Dead man can and will do, frankly, unusual things to a guitar. However, this is not the first thing that strikes you about Archive. Instead it is the sound – and it’s not pleasant. Released to mark a full-stop on his 2006-2015 run of solo shows, it sees four rare studio cuts bundled with a 2014 live set. The problem with live acoustic recordings lies in the fact that even in the age of unlimited music, wireless power and smart watches that get grumpy when you skip leg day, no one has figured out how to make a plugged-in electro-acoustic sound good. This is just about palatable nestled in a full-band arrangement or with an accomplished performer like Stevens conjuring magic from a wooden box onstage before your very eyes, but over six solo instrumental live tracks it quickly chafes.