Nieves – Matriarch

It’s an unassailable fact that life can be pretty damn grim, and Glasgow alt-folk foursome Nieves certainly aren’t going to sugar coat things for us.

Instead, new EP Matriarch offers up an assiduous portrayal of the stark beauty to be found in sorrow, human shortfall, and those all too common grim realities.

On first play, Matriarch immediately draws the listener in, thanks in large part to lush, layered keys from Herre de Leur on piano.

Instrumentally beautiful, the record shifts seamlessly from one tumbling piano melody to another.

Merging this with skillfully placed percussion and guitar, from Ross Forsyth and Martin Murray respectively, Nieves create depth, and glimmers of light amidst the darkest of lyrical content.

The EP, demands closer attention and on more careful consideration, it is this lyrical content, and a remarkable vocal from frontman Brendan Dafters that sets this band apart.

Bringing power, raw emotion and sounding as though he’s breaking his fucking heart with every line, Dafters delivers a unique, and distinctively Scottish vocal.

Opening with ‘The Knot’ Nieves stick to well-versed tales of heartache and failed relationships, yet successfully steer clear of trite clichés.

Instead Dafters injects glimpses of dry humour, with lyrics “I got it tight at the breakfast table” certainly resonating with this Scot at least.

In comparison, ‘Empty Book’ and ‘Black Tie’ are far grittier affairs, tackling topics most shy away from, with sincerity and gravitas.

Although not easy or comfortable listening at times, the tracks are undeniably relatable, and refreshingly honest.

Stand out ‘Legs and Arms’ takes this honesty to another level; here, a heart-wrenching outpouring of guilt and grief is tempered beautifully by understated keys and a shift in focus to guitar instrumental, highlighting the band’s musical range.

While successfully circumventing the pitfalls of sounding overly polished or contrived, Matriarch is a self-assured and confident offering from the band, who will round off a successful 2015 with a headline at Tut’s in December.

Words: Kat McNicol

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