Some Days You Eat the Bear And Some Days the Bear Eats You
Ian Matthews brought a British folk perspective to American rock and country styles during his early days as a solo artist. The ex-Fairport Convention singer/songwriter applies his pristine tenor to well-selected material on 1974’s Some Days You Eat the Bear… In some ways, the album suffers from too much of a good thing — Matthews’ air of angelic melancholy lends a sameness in tone to songs that work well individually. That said, there are definite highpoints on this artfully-produced and tastefully-played work. Matthews connects easily with the quiet desolation of Danny Whitten’s “I Don’t Wanna Talk About It” and the soft-focus desire of “Biloxi,” bringing something fresh to these familiar tunes. The poppy, honey-dipped treatments given Tom Waits’ “Ol’ 55” and Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work” are less effective. Much better are several Matthews originals, especially the wistful “A Wailing Goodbye” and the moody, Fairport-ish “The Fault.” The album’s tracks benefit from an interesting mix of British and American sidemen, including David Lindley, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and U.K. steel guitar whiz B.J. Coles. Some Days You Eat the Bear… isn’t long on bite, but scores points for its caressing tunefulness and tender heart.