It’s less than 12 months since Tensheds released their 4th album ‘Deathrow Disco’, yet December 2019 might seem like a lifetime ago now. Let’s head back to the start of this chaotic year in March, where main man Matt Millership found himself in isolation, an extensive tour cancelled, and no way to promote his music.
He, like many other musicians and artists, adapted to the situation, found ways to create and get an outlet to his fanbase. He performed a Livestream that was successful, and though apprehensive at first, Matt embraced this new format and the following live sessions grew into a regular event affectionately entitled ‘The Punk Palace Sessions’. Matt promised to write and perform a new song every week, he delivered, and the outcome of these sessions are this new solo album, ‘The Days Of My Confinement’, written and recorded entirely in isolation.
Not surprisingly, ‘The Days Of My Confinement’ is the antithesis of ‘Deathrow Disco’. While that last album, funnily enough, deals with its own themes of isolation, musically it is a gritty, alternative beast full of heavy beats and gravelly vocals. ‘The Days Of My Confinement’ is more of a celebration of the piano, and showcases the songwriter’s classic training, and is therefore a much more somber and subdued affair. Working within the confines of his home studio, Matt creates drama and certain moods that he probably would not have managed if the world was a different place during the recording.
There is a certain intimacy to the performance here. These haunting piano sermons are songs stripped bare to the bone, the songwriter bearing his inner soul for all to digest. Opener ‘Ticking Clocks’ sets the scene perfectly as Matt’s tinkling of the ivories contrasts with raspy vocals, before a bass drum beat and layered piano runs take the listener to another plane.
Matt’s classical training lends him well throughout, the clever song structures help pique the interest as each song has a certain ebb and flow. On ‘The Bridge Song’, the strong vocal performance and subdued verse lead this listener into a false sense of security, before stabs of piano chords take me by surprise. To me, it sounds like it was recorded in a church, the piano player being observed by a silent congregation as he plays his heart out. It’s both emotive and dramatic in equal measures.
Elsewhere, the first single ‘Mirrors’ is as epic as it gets, the sweeping chorus as grandiose as its counterpart verse is timid. ‘Hell Is In The Water’ has a fuller band sound that sees Matt explore and incorporate more instruments, he takes us to church on this sermon with handclaps and fuzzy stabs of guitar. On ‘Cotton Wool World’ the delicacy of the delivery is fascinating, Matt’s raw, gravelly tones almost breaking over a piano melody that is dancing on a razor’s edge.
The confines that were forced upon him and the goals that he set himself have worked in his favour, and Matt Millership has created an album that is as majestic as it is stark and chilling. This is not an upbeat or even a happy album, but we are not in happy times and in that way, it seems quite fitting. If you’re a fan of Tom Waits, if you love the echoey, reverb drenched feel of Springsteen’s ‘Nebraska’, or have been enraptured by Nick Cave’s recent ‘Idiot Prayer’ performance, then you could do no wrong getting Tensheds new album in your creepy little mitts for Christmas.
Buy the album Here
Author: Ben Hughes