Concert preview: Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck searches for hope amid the wreckage on Muchacho

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From the January 30, 2014 edition

On Muchacho, the sixth studio album Matthew Houck has released under the Phosphorescent banner, the Georgia-born musician fully comes into the name, easing through 10 gorgeous tracks that emit a warm, low-wattage glow.

Near the onset of the recording, Houck moans “I will not open myself up this way again,” but thankfully he refuses to hold to his word, turning out an open-hearted bruiser of an album. On the country-laced “Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master),” he ushers away a former lover (“You’re telling me you’re leaving/And I’m telling you to go”), only to stew in his grief on the mournful, pedal steel-kissed “Muchacho’s Tune.” Yet for all the heartache here — and it’s clear Houck’s working through some heavy stuff — the music exudes both a sense of defiance and a belief things will indeed get better. Witness hymn-like album-closer “Sun’s Arising (A Koan, An Exit),” where the frontman’s optimism surges as he sings, “Dark as I been … sun’s arising.”

Caveman opens the show.

Photo courtesy of Phosphorescent