June 21, 2005
Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Soft Rock, British Folk-Rock, New Wave, Folk-Rock, Psychedelic, Punk/New Wave

Album Review

Following two less than thrilling releases for Columbia, Stealin' Home is somewhat of a return to form for Ian Matthews. Recorded for Rockburgh Records in the U.K., and co-produced by Matthews along with label owner and former cohort Sandy Roberton, the album veers away from the tepid jazz-tinged pop of its predecessor, continuing what seemed to be a natural progression that was hinted at with Some Days You Eat the Bear in 1974, and then to a greater degree with the lackluster Go for Broke two years later. The pop and light R&B of the disappointing Go for Broke is more fully realized here, showing Matthews in a much more flattering light. Once again he chooses a handful of good covers, including songs by Robert Palmer, John Martyn, and Terence Boylan to round out and complement his own material. It's a nice, pure pop treatment of Boylan's "Shake It," that gave Matthews his first Top 40 hit in over seven years (number 13), but it's a pair of pre-rock & roll numbers that are responsible for two of Stealin' Home's most inspired moments. A warm a cappella arrangement of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Carefully Taught," from the musical South Pacific, evokes both the beauty and depth of the song, while the interpolation of Richard Stekol's contemporary "Yank and Mary" with the old standard "Smile" has a sort of melancholy sweetness. Elsewhere, cuts such as Palmer's "Gimme an Inch," Boylan's "Don't Hang Up Your Dancing Shoes," and Martyn's "Man in the Station" are appealing enough, but seem a bit diluted when placed next to the original versions. Released by Mushroom Records in North America, Stealin' Home, though not necessarily essential, is still worth a listen. Saddled with late-'70s production techniques there is nothing, on the surface, to recommend Siamese Friends. A close look at the songwriting credits, though, will reveal a beginning of Matthews' fascination with the work of the great Jules Shear. (Matthews would later do an entire album of Shear's songs). Still, even this track is burdened by a cheesy David Sanborn-style sax line.
Brett Hartenbach & Jim Worbois, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Gimme an Inch Girl
  2. Don't Hang Up Your Dancing Shoes
  3. King of the Night
  4. Man in the Station
  5. Let There Be Blues
  6. Carefully Taught
  7. Stealing Home
  8. Shake It
  9. Yank and Mary (Smile)
  10. Slip Away
  11. Sail My Soul
  12. You Don't See Me
  13. Survival
  14. Heatwave
  15. Home Somewhere
  16. Crying in the Night
  17. The Baby She's on the Street
  18. Hearts on the Line
  19. Anna
  20. Lies
  21. Run Away