Phosphorescent‘s albums, as well as the band’s short but heartfelt EP, are the kind you reach for when you could use a companion — someone to share in an inspired, poetic struggle that your friends would only mock. Singer Matthew Houk — an Alabama-born resident of Athens, Georgia — delivers a sincerity and familiarity rare among today’s more guarded, image-conscious vocalists. But it’s more than that. Combining a rickety, Southern, shy-cowboy sound with lush keyboards, dramatic string-and-harmonica crescendos and what sounds like an entire room full of perpetually clapping friends, Houk can do happy, as in the triumphant “When We Fall”; he can do Sad Lonely Bastard, as on the melancholy “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”; and, on his new album, Aw Come Aw Wry, he can even do carefree and lazy, with songs such as “I Am a Grown Man (I Will Lay in the Grass All Day).” But whatever Phosphorescent’s songs are about, even the sad ones, they all sound a little like humble prayers of thanks.

Categories: Music