Sieben – The line and the hook

This second Sieben album is a family affair: the line-up consists mainly of Matt Howden and his wife Jane. On top of that the cover is a painting of Matt’s father Keith, and three songs are based upon poems of his hand. Sally Doherty is no longer a member of Sieben, she has other projects to concentrate on.

Compared with the first Sieben album the sound is more dense and less mellow. Of course the violin is still an important instrument in the music of Sieben, but the drums are also pretty dominant at times, just like on Matt’s solo album ‘Hellfires’. Further the bass is rather prominent. A variety of other instruments is used, from a soprano saxophone to a Japanese banjo. On most tracks both Matt and Jane sing, which is a nice combination. There are various intimate, melancholic moments on the album, especially when Jane sings and Matt plays the violin. But a minute later you can be moved to another part of the emotional spectrum, when some passionate drumming takes over.

The first track is called ‘V√∂lkerslachtdenkmal’, which immediately remembers me of the concert that Sieben gave in that impressive monument in Leipzig a few years ago. The atmosphere of that concert was already great, when the weather gods added some loud thunder and lightning, which made the whole building shook… I suspect that the last song, ‘Denkmal’, also deals with this stone structure in Eastern Germany. Another song is also inspired by Germany: ‘Christmas 1914’, in which Matt even tries to sing a few lines in German. War is one of the themes on this album. In ‘Footsoldier’ we are taken to various battlefields, from Russia to Flanders. There are also various tracks about ‘the gods’, a theme that Matt also explored in his last solo work, that dealt with all the faces of hell.

The first Sieben album was more a collection of tracks, whereas the songs on ‘The line and the hook’ form a coherent whole, therefore it is hard to pick out individual tracks. I must say that it is rather strenuous to listen to the whole album. For some reason it seems to ask a lot of the listener, probably through its intensity. But if you take the effort it can be very rewarding…

On his website Matt says about this release: Sieben is my main project, what I like to do best. With the release of the second album ‘The Line and the Hook’ I think I’ve really found a style I like, a style that allows me to say and play what I want to. I wanted hypnotic drums and timpani, alluring strings and a close, up-front vocal style and overall a crisp but dark production sound.

artist: Sieben
label: Red Room
details: 13 tracks