For the last year or so, the name of Matthew Siskin, and his Gambles project, has been on many a writer’s lips, or pens, or keyboards. After spending several days holed up with his short Far From Your Arms EP, it’s clear to me that all his accolades and interest are warranted. His EP is intimately moving, touching every corner of my oft darkened soul, awakening the spirit and faith in music/art once again.
“Trust” begins with a slow strumming, with Siskin’s voice wavering just atop. At points, he seems to struggle, though not in a manner that turns people away. Rather, I’ve been drawn closer into his sound, listening for every slight crack or every tarnished note, all reverberating a purity in songwriting that I’ve missed a lot lately. While the pacing of the strumming provides a sensation of solemnity, he picks things up slightly moving forward.
His strumming of his acoustic takes a heavier-handed turn on “Safe Side,” though he alternates between that punchier strumming technique to quieted careful note picking. But, when it’s loud, the sound is emphatic, yet his vocals turn intimate when he brings things to a hush. He’s speaking to someone, or a character he knows, switching from a personal perspective to more of an omniscient thinker. The closing whistle is an added touch of beauty.
Skipping ahead to the EP’s title track you’ll find what I consider one of the best two songs written this year. “Far From Your Arms” is the perfect bit of modern folk music, both in its sonic approach and its emotional pull. As Matthew’s voice rises, ever so slightly, one can picture himself listening carefully in a smoke-filled pint-size room, holding your breath as every note is played. Perhaps the song’s about a journey home, or the distance that divides us all, but regardless, it encapsulates everything I’ve ever dreamed of hearing. I imagine this song will play in my head and heart for some time.
What amazes me about listening to Far From Your Arms is how much I feel the impact and weight of the songs within. Admittedly, I consume a lot of music, and it takes a lot for something to really really hit home. But, in five short songs, Gambles has achieved that feat, with both the poetry in his lyrical content and the emotional pull of every chord. This is a must listen for anyone.