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Chris While and Julie Matthews - Infinite Sky (Fat Cat)

Star rating: 
4

Music becomes magic when we find we can't distinguish one voice from another when two great voices harmonise together and Chris and Julie do this all the time. With each new release, we know to expect a touch of class, both in the writing and the performance but also in the choice of accompanying musicians and in the arrangements too.

INFINITE SKY is the duo's eighth studio album to date and once again comprises a democratic share out of the writing credits, with each of the two writers contributing mature songs from the heart. Opening with Julie's optimistic sunshine of a song This Beautiful Life, which reminds us all that despite the highs and lows, the ebbs and tides and light and shade in our lives, the cycle comes around and the bright golden haze on the meadow is assured if we hang on in there. There's now't wrong with looking on the bright side, that's for sure. 

With some of the songs written on the other side of the world, such as Chris's Half a World Away together with the only joint composition, the infectious Shaky Town, which sees Chris and Julie getting their heads together on an optimistic song written for the city of Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2011. Martin Simpson pops in on slide guitar for this song, joining a handful of guest musicians offering their services such as Andy Cutting on melodeon and Nancy Kerr on fiddle and viola on the beautifully sombre Nie Wieder (Never Again), a song dedicated to the German/Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann.     
 
Kris Kristofferson allegedly told Joni Mitchell to 'leave something of yourself' in reaction to some of the more personal songs on the Canadian singer's classic Blue album. Julie Matthews also occasionally writes painfully personal songs that may warrant similar advice, such as the heart wrenching I Apologise, which alludes to Julie's vulnerability as a human being. The beauty of this album is that there is a good balance of light and shade, which makes it an absolutely delightful record.  

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky