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Lexington musician delivers a
refreshing mix of blue-eyed Soul, harmonizing
R&B and modern indie-pop

Matt Duncan - Beacon
(Hop Hop Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 24, 2010
Matt Duncans

Review by Tony Bonyata

Over the last few years Lexington, KY has become a hotbed of remarkable up-and coming indie acts, spawning great bands such as The Apparitions, The Scourge of The Sea, Vandaveer, Ben Sollee, Chico Fellini and These United States. It's little wonder to find that many of these bands have shared, swapped or stolen many of the same musicians from one another. One of these musicians, singer-songwriter Matt Duncan, not only shares his time as part of Lexy's new indie-folk band Englishman (led by The Scourge of the Sea's frontman Andrew English) but fronts his own solo project under his name.

On Duncan's debut six-song EP, Beacon, he's enlisted a wealth of local talent to help produce one of the most unlikely musical hybrids to come out of the Bluegrass State in some time; incorporating exuberant horns, handsome harmonizing and catchy songs that defy easy classification. Duncan's buttery, blue-eyed soul vocals coze up perfectly with the R&B-infused numbers such "Mean Streak," "1000 Boys" and the sumptuous title track. It all hearkens back to the sounds that revved out of Motown in the mid-'60s, yet also incorporates a decidedly indie-slant, as if Beck was pilfering through Barry Gordy's personal record collection for his next inspiration. Following suit, the snappy and spirited pop-rock track "Puritan Heart" sounds a bit like Spoon if their diet was heavier on grits & greens than double Lattes & veggie tacos.

Reaching back even further for inspiration, Duncan and company deliver the soulful a-cappella number "Heart & Arrow" which conjures up the image of a group of guys laying down an early form of doo-wop on Brooklyn's mean streets in the mid-'50s. And on "Good Times" a Latin breeze lightly sambas through the tune as Duncan bemoans that he's "tired of good times" with a silky croon slightly reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright.

While the R&B sounds of the '50s and '60s may not seem like the most likely bedfellows for a young indie artist from the South, Matt Duncan and friends make it all work with fun and refreshing results.

Matt Duncan's Beacon EP is available to purchase online ($5 for CD or $4 digital format) here:

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