Will Knox
"The Matador & The Acrobat"

(Self-Released 2009)Will Knox - The Matador & The Acrobat

Truthfully it has been a while since I listened to some good, honest folk music. For some reason I associate the genre with ten gallon hats, hayseed chewing, and warm summer evenings, all of which have been scarce in Philly for a while now. Luckily, I received Will Knox's "The Matador & The Acrobat" just in time to combat another blistery January afternoon. Knox's follow up to the "Buckled Knees" EP is a collection of narratives and symbolism regarding self discovery, lost love, and the tribulations of becoming an artist. Nothing new to folk music, however, the presentation is beyond your run of the mill guitar-cradling singer-songwriter.

Before even listening to the music, the wonderfully creepy album cover catches my attention. Straight out of a Tim Burton movie, the artwork (done by Bruce Holwerda) paints a perfect visual of the music behind the distorted, mechanical clown head. The music itself is a delicate layering of guitar, bass, banjo, violin, and percussion courtesy of Chris Anderson, Kyle James Hauser, Clayton Matthews, and Tim Yusef. The arrangements create a lush and imaginative backdrop capable of wafting the listener to a fairytale like setting. And this is where Knox's lyrics fill in to continue the story.

From the opening track "Buckled Knees" the English/Celtic flavor rolls in thick like a London fog. The dream-weary artist is depicted, but cautiously warned of the pitfalls of success and fame on the human psyche and soul. Midway through the disc, "Crocodile" shows off Knox's ability to rock the folk a bit and allow his voice to carry the song. Sounding almost identical to Ted Leo, a lass is reminded of the terrible decisions (there are several) that she has made since parting ways with our narrator. Tsk tsk, you wayward lass!

Throughout the album there are three thematic checkpoints concerning the Matador and the Acrobat, or the Subconscious and the Self. The inner struggle of being honest to oneself and living one's life without the fear of acting on those realizations is essentially the moral of Knox's story. Although a tired concept in music, Will Knox and Co. has managed to portray it in a fresh, simple, and vivid way with "The Matador & The Acrobat."

B+

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