Matthew Fogle Plea 491 as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothThis patchy début EP offers rough, gruff Americana.

Label: Independent (    
Time: 5 tracks /19 Minutes

When Matthew Fogle starts singing, it comes as a surprise. He sounds more rugged than the cover suggests. Although the words come across as a patchwork of phrases that happen to rhyme, his slightly Dylanesque vocal style and Springsteen-like enthusiasm are promising on opener “God of Power and Might,” but this début EP never quite fulfils those hopes.

Plea 491 is a real mix. Two other tracks vie for best song, but each also has a notable weakness. Closing piece “You’ll Be There” has one of the most singable melodies, but as a ballad it clearly shows how much Fogle can struggle to stay on pitch. The best parts of “Garden Flame” (part of the melody and the guitar solo) remind me of other music and are probably living vicariously off those.

Fogle does well to avoid the usual clichés of Christian soft-rock (such as on the baptism song “Splashdown”) but his lyrics still don’t connect strongly. He is accompanied by strings here and fuzz guitar there, but these are just small touches on pictures that definitely share a palette. The rather odd phrase “Comeback Source” feels forced and listeners might either find it catchy or irritating.

This disc certainly has enjoyable spots, but it is unlikely to become the soundtrack to your life.

$1 per CD goes to charities around Louisville.




Derek Walker