Over the past several months we have been reviewing some truly amazing albums in the folk-rock singer-songwriter space here at RUST Magazine. Luke Elliot thoroughly surprised us with his EP Provisions. Xander Smith crafted a regional and career-defining record with Outside. Georgia ex-pats Charlie and the Foxtrots fascinated us with Golden. And now, Matt Turk’s masterfully crafted album Cold Revival has crossed our skies like a blazing star, transfixing our gaze on it’s brilliance.
This is an album of immediate excellence and lasting relevance. It’s simply fantastic. It’s deep, intricate and touching. Cold Revival is a project of inspiration and subtlety where Matt Turk both creates and redefines passages of musical beauty, making them all uniquely his own. Cold Revival was – for us – an introduction to an artist who has been active for over 2 decades and whose solo discography includes Turktunes (2000), What Gives (2002) and Washington Arms (2006), Mandolin Caravan’s Desert Soul (2003), and Gillen & Turk Backs to the Wall (2008). Matt Turk has toured internationally and the miles and stages have seasoned him to the point where he could make such an ambitious album and be certain to succeed.
For several years, Matt coordinated and hosted the Circle of Song and Jam tents at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival. Since 1997, Matt Turk has served as resident musician at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City and is an Arts Westchester Roster Artist. Matt served two terms (June 2010-June 2012) as president of the board of Tribes Hill, the Hudson Valley kindred folk music organization and he now lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY with his wife Ilana Arazie.
Helping him on Cold Revival is producer and filmmaker David Dobkin, best known for directing Wedding Crashers, and the musicians on the new album include Russ Irwin from Sting and Aerosmith, Chris Joyner of Jason Mraz, Ray La Montagne, and Sheryl Crow, and Dean Butterworth from Good Charlotte and Ben Harper. Together with Matt singing and playing acoustic guitar, mandolin and lap steel, Cold Revival bears the hallmarks of musical craftspeople of the highest order.
A few of the songs featured on Cold Revival are adaptations which were brought to Matt’s attention by his teacher, Hot Tuna’s Barry Mitterhoff. “Midnight on the Water” is a shortened version of the Luke Thomasson classic, while “Battle Song” is adapted from the instrumental “Tunturisatu.” Whatever the source for the core ideas, Matt and company take every song on Cold Revival into unique and personal spaces via patient and meticulous treatment. This is a project of reverence and it’s to be taken very, very seriously.
Cold Revival is a very special album from a critically-acclaimed musician of passion and dedication and it stands in a class by itself, or at least among the very best company. The people who have risen to the occasion to help Matt realize his aspirations have together accomplished something both very personal and individual as well as shared. As a composer, Matt Turk is simply in a class by himself. The source for his ideas are unfathomably personal, and his ability to communicate them to his peers, and to the public, puts him in a singular category of talent. With Cold Revival, Matt Turk has distinguished himself as one of the premier talents of our time, and this is one of the best albums ever made. It is that special.
There is a greatness at work here that has aligned the people involved like the gravity of a dark star affecting everything around it. As a listener you’re helpless but to fall deeper and deeper into the music. Every song is a journey in itself and on Cold Revival, all the paths lead further on into the heart of Matt Turk. Cold Revival plays out like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (the book Apocalypse Now was based on) taking you into unavoidable places you fear, while tempting you with lights in the darkness that are always just slightly beyond reach.
There are very few albums that have the specialness of Cold Revival. It’s a significant, timeless release from some of the premiere artists of our age. It takes a combination of elements old and new and brings them together with integrity, intensity and individuality. There is a lineage behind the music here that demands a level of ability and a respect for both the past and future. It’s a stellar achievement. RUST Magazine commends Matt, David and the other artists for both their exceptional performances and their humanity here. Essential.