The Natural Lines

“Maybe the problem is me,” the artist formerly known as Matt Pond PA sings on the inviting opening track from First Five. At once clearly Pond’s work, yet a huge leap forward in its measured songcraft, melodic immediacy, collaborative detail and wryly questioning lyrics, the result is a gorgeous collection of intimate reflections and personal accountability from a relocated, renamed, revivified talent. Here, The Natural Lines paint a picture of the internal conflict, comedy and ultimate acceptance inside all of us.

Pond-watchers might wonder why the name change. Recorded with close collaborators and friends over a period that saw Pond make vital adjustments to his life, The Natural Lines’ stealth emergence reflects his desire to set a fresh pace for himself and come from somewhere new, somewhere more open. “I quit lying,” he adds. “I checked my harsher tones. I cut my drinking down. I went to therapy and stopped shouting at cars.”

Now, the name change honours his collaborators. Among a revolving cast, one constant presence in his work has been Chris Hansen, who plays guitar, bass, keys, saxophone and sings. Singer-songwriter Anya Marina, shines on “In The Dark” and Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins / Bella Union) lays down a lush bass on this tale of hide and seek with true connection. Other band members number Hilary James (cello/vocals), Kyle Kelly-Yahner (drums), Louie Lino (keys), Sarah Hansen (horns), Sean Hansen (drums/bass), Andy Dixon (drums), Kat Murphy (vocals) and, also on vocals, 17-year-old MJ Murphy, for whom Matt brims with praise: “She can do anything she wants to musically.”

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