Displaying an increased sense of songcraft and sharper arrangements, The Lateness of the Hour
takes the virtues of Eric Matthews' debut, It's Heavy in Here
, and amplifies them, resulting in a richer, fuller album. Where its predecessor only made a passing acknowledgment of rock, there's more guitar on The Lateness of the Hour
, and it has a less orchestral feel -- the strings and horns are used as coloring, accentuating the songs in the style of swinging '60s pop. Matthews
still has a problem with writing provocative lyrics, but his melodicism is at a peak. Each song has a memorable melody which is surrounded by rolling guitars, lush strings, and sweet brass. The best songs have an effortless grace, while even the weaker moments are enjoyable because of the lavish arrangements. Matthews
might be too precious for some listeners -- his voice is almost inhumanly fey and breathy -- but, on the basis of The Lateness of the Hour
, there's little denying that he is developing into a first-rate songwriter and arranger.