Review – Matt Steady – Presence – by John Wenlock-Smith

This was actually released back in 2023 so this review is probably a little overdue now but, still, it is definitely worthy of a review in my opinion.

I came across Matt Steady’s music through an advert on Facebook in which he was offering an albums worth of his Celtic Prog guitar works, a sampler of his earlier albums that also included two tracks lifted from this release, ‘Presence’. This sampler was mine for the price of postage, however, what made this album appeal to me was the endorsements of Dave Brons (whose albums I have previously reviewed) and also of Dave Bainbridge, both of whom had very positive things to say about Matt’s music. Positive proof that people do value the opinions of those they respect, this made this free album offer more enticing and so I opted to listen for myself.

Matt is an interesting fellow, he is by day a foster carer, which he does in conjunction with his wife, with Matt being the main carer. This is, of itself, a very laudable calling, however ,despite having a house full of children, in between this activity he creates his own music, which ranges in style between Celtic and folk, along with blues and heavy rock. I received the sampler and thoroughly enjoyed it, I talked to Matt and offered to review it for Progradar. Matt said that it was a sampler and asked would I review his latest album, ‘Presence’, instead, which is when I found out that it was a recent, 2023, release.

That is the long way of telling you about this review, ‘Presence’ is a ten track, fully instrumental, album of mood music. That said, it is not mere background music, rather this is a more emotional type of music, music that connects with you and makes you feel something. That is the aim at the heart of the album,

The album begins with a stunning guitar instrumental called Deep Calls To Deep, which has an excellent melody line. The track opens with epic keyboard swathes and percussion before a sinewy guitar line is added that bleeds emotion. This line just ascends and soars in a very recognisable style of a certain Gilmour chap, making for an epic instrumental opening salvo and sets the listener up for some feelings in the music. It is all very well done and the playing is excellent, quite what emotion this track conveys is not entirely clear, I suspect it is love, a very deep love though. Constant is a slightly eastern mystical sounding track, emotively it shows perseverance or patience. Again, this track has some excellent guitar playing throughout, swift flurries of notes over a constantly shifting rhythm pattern, all very impressive sounding indeed. Espresso has an interesting opening part full of burbling synths followed by another strong and fluid guitar line with a lovely tone to it, very clear and pronounced. Again the emotion it seeks to convey is not fully clear, although it sounds fantastic anyway.

Next up is Reign which may be representative of power. This piece has a somewhat suppressed guitar tone, like it is being held back somehow. It is a great tone though, which is what it is all about, as any guitarist will tell you, it’s all about the tone you get and apply in your sound and, well, this track has oceans of tone! Perforate has a funky groove and guitar fills. Matt gets some great sounds on this track, I love the funky groove and the ending solo, delivered by Dave Brons, is excellent. Uprising has a strong thrust and some great keyboards, it has a very muscular feel to it which suggests the emotion is overcoming adversity and being resilient and strong in the face of oppression, again this track really makes an impact. Foundation implies strength in a relationship and life in general. Emotion oozes throughout the track which has Terl Bryant’s drums thundering away throughout, giving a very solid base from which Matt can fly free and he does that remarkably well and fluidly.

Jelly Babies is the next track and, again, the emotion is unclear but I suspect it is joy as the track is fairly joyful in nature. Reed is the penultimate track and this one suggests resilience and letting life flow over and around you without breaking your spirit. In fact, the whole album suggests a kind of spirituality that offers hope and comfort when needed. Matt plays a violin part in the early section before switching to a fiery electric guitar solo, it sounds very epic indeed, a very strong track overall. The final piece is Sunrise and it has another stirring guitar line. This track suggests gratitude for another day of living and also for all that are around us, it is a lovely and fitting conclusion for an amazing album of moods.

There is some real graceful and empathetic music on offer here, it is a collection of tracks that will lift your spirits and provide sustenance in times of need. This self-released album has some rather excellent performances and stirring music in its short, forty minute, duration.

I really like it, and you can get it for yourself direct from the artist at the link below, as well as ‘The Dragons Refrain’ sampler.

Release 2nd September, 2023.

Order direct from the artists here:

Order from bandcamp here:

Presence | Matt Steady (\