Admittedly, I’m a music consumer on a massive scale. It means that I get to enjoy tons of great bands, but on the downside, it takes a lot to emotionally move me. In 2013, I’ve had that happen once with Majical Cloudz; it’s happening again as I spend repeated listens to the debut album from Gambles, Trust.
From the instant that “Angel” came through my speakers, the sincerity in the work of Matthew Siskin, aka Gambles, was extremely clear to me. There’s a slight echo in the way his vocals have been recorded, as if your best friend had you recorded his rooftop ramblings. However, these aren’t ramblings; these are well penned lyrics of life, love and all the things in between. I guess it’s no surprise that the following track is titled “Rooftops,” though the strumming of acoustic guitar on this track is much more intimate and softer than the opening tune. An entire verse seems to be sung via whistling, aligning Siskin with troubadours of our hearts from days of old; it’s striking how such a simple touch can seem so personal.
The incredibly moving moments from Trust continue into the third track with “So I Cry Out.” It was this song that really made me fall in love with what’s being created within the confines of this album. As that music consumer, some moments of creation have become predictable to me. So much so that I can typically figure out where a lyric or note will start and end. This is not so here, as Matthew holds on to notes for his own sake, often elongating syllables for the emotional effect; this slight personal affectation has allowed him to stand out among many of his peers, if not all of them.
But don’t think that this debut album by Gambles is short on solid listening after the powerful opening tracks. It’d be easy to write and fawn over everything on the record, but I’ve taken to loving “Penny for a Grave” the last few days. The humming is a nice alternative to the traditional whistle, but the lyrical substance is really great. My personal favorite line from the track: “is it the smell of your old bones/calling me home again.” Even more personal to me is the fact that you can’t simply decipher the lyrics, they’re shrouded in metaphors that I dare not attempt to uncover. But, that’s what makes it personal, that’s what makes it special; I can ascribe my own meaning to these tracks. “265” is another such tune that I’ve taken a liking to, as well. There’s a rise and fall to the song, in both the vocals and the musical accompaniment. Siskin does well too with his guitar playing, alternating between soft strum and heavy-handed stroke, and always with purpose.
It’s difficult to see past the bullshit sometimes, and even more difficult when you’re only working with your guitar and voice. But, somehow, somewhere, Matthew Siskin has created a gift for listeners. You can rush to rip off the wrapping or you can choose to go slow, but one thing can be assured: you’ll never ever regret the day you picked up the first full-length from Gambles. May Trust be our first introduction to a long and remarkably affecting career.