Matt Dunbar and Holly Rees – ‘Your place’


About fifteen years ago I made a pledge that anyone who liked Ryan Adams would be worth knowing, and any musician siting Ryan as an inspiration would be worth listening to.  Given the quality of Ryan’s early work, especially his Whiskeytown material, and the fact that he was still reasonably under the radar I figured that anyone who was aware of him would have to take music seriously.  This, remember, was back in cash rich, promotion heavy, days of music labels who forced the world to revolve around Justin, Britney, Christina and 5ive.  Acoustic tracks about being broke and heartbroken were promoted as often as Sunderland.

We’re a few years away from this pledge now, and Ryan’s a lot better known than he was back in the day, but it’s still good to see young Mr Dunbar hold him up as an inspiration; it suggests some unconventional thinking and a desire to find something outside of the obvious.

The lasting influence of Adams onto Dunbar, and this track, is a strong one; Americana/ high lonesome in it’s feel, mid-tempo bluegrass in it’s pace, lyrics about the pains of growing up, and an underlying awareness that the memories we have of our formative years are often rose-tinted and out of kilter with reality.  Yet, as on the majority of high-lonesome tracks, Dunbar plays with the human condition that we often enjoy how our melancholy can make us feel.  We enjoy spending time in our re-written past.

‘Your place’ is one of those interesting tracks which explores the concepts of memories, particularly those associated with people who may no longer be part of our lives.  Reasonably simple in it’s narrative and sound, ‘Place’ is complex in it’s purpose, asking the listener to consider if their history is in fact real.

Both Dunbar and Rees put in great vocals, Dunbar in a higher-pitched, almost young Jeff Buckley sound, and Rees providing the lower end.  On the moments of harmony, the voices match well and provide the emotional element needed in a song which, ultimately, is designed to make you feel happy about the good old days, and sad at the fact that they’ve gone.

Ryan, I’m sure, would be more than happy at what his catalogue continues to influence, and I’m more than happy to keep my pledge.