I had to come back to this three times to finally figure out precisely why it wasn't hitting me, and, as the aphorism goes, the third was the charm…though that noun isn't quite appropriate. Ronda Madson's Truth be Told is a prime example why it often isn't a good thing to self-produce. For one, there's too frequently not enough distance between the composer and the material itself, and that's what happened here, though there are other factors as well.
Matson's artistry per se isn't the problem, as she has an unusual-ish approach and a good singing voice, though it tends to inflect a tad oddly every so often; what was most blatantly throwing me out of the disc each time was her guitar playing and the engineering. Everything's flat—not as in "a good recording lacking distortion", but as in "a quarter-inch wide bandwidth": no depth, little variation, droney, just flaaaat! And, frankly, the lyrics follow suit. As poetry, they're shallow and cliché, conversation with a friend at the laundromat not introspection and profundity.
There's more than one cut—I'm not sure which, as SoCal Electric pulled a powerdown while I was listening, losing my place (and I almost lost the damn write-up to boot!), and I'm unwilling to essay the disc a fourth time—where Matson's voice jumps to oblique positions in the sound field and shifts timbres for no reason. On the other hand, cuts like Run have great potential, possessing good melodic ideas. What she needs, though, is a full band and even strings or a good synth player who knows how to pull up patches for symphonic sweetening. Matson isn't really a folkie, she's a soft rocker with folk colorations, and when she realizes that, she'll (hopefully) know what to do, but the first thing she'll need is a good producer…who lacks the surname 'Matson'.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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