Phosphorescent is Matthew Houck, the Brooklyn-via-Alabama singer with a world-weary voice and a penchant for singing sad, longing folk songs. Ever since he came out recording as Phosphorescent back in 2003, Houck has steadily churned out a stream of records, from his rustic one-man recordings of his early albums to doing a Willie Nelson tribute to finally expanding to a full-blown band exploring southern country in his previous effort, 2010’s Here’s To Taking It Easy – five records in seven years, all in all.
If all these output sounds like it might have taken a toll on Houck, the answer was that it did. Houck admitted to retreating to Tulum, a small town in Mexico to recharge and rethought about his future as Phosphorescent. There must be something wonderful in the waters of Tulum though, because the result of this retreat was Muchacho, a wonderful record that is arguably Phosphorescent‘s best to date.
In contrast to Phosphorescent‘s earlier records, Muchacho is warm and hopeful. You can sense it immediately as the album opens with the healing hymns of Sun, Arise! (the same hymns would close the record). This was followed by Song For Zula, a soaring song textured with melodious harmonies that contrasts nicely with Houck’s ragged voice. With this tone set, you can’t help but feel a sense of calm when the rest of the record’s songs – some somber, most uplifting – washes over you. This is a beautiful record. Enjoy it.
Listen to the after-mentioned Song For Zula embedded below.
Phosphorescent – Muchacho comes out 3/19 via Dead Oceans (order here)