Is Matt Corby still relevant?

I have to admit, before the Aussie songsmith’s performance at the UC Refectory last Saturday, my answer would have been simple: No. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not just has Matt Corby matured as an artist – honing his songwriting skills and expanding upon his resonate impassioned, powerful voice -, but has outshone the hits of his past. 

Matt Corby peaked young – at least as far as the music charts are concerned – and like too many an artist before him, is somewhat stuck in that shadow. When Corby inevitably played his seminal 2012 hit ‘Brother’, the euphoric and electric energy of the crowd exploded. Phones across the room where hastily pulled from pockets and handbags, and the whole space was suddenly filled with the dull hue of a thousand cellphone screens snap-chatting, filming. 

But, ‘Brother’ was released seven years ago. Corby’s fourth LP, ‘Into the Flame’, which ‘Brother’ was a part of, was six-times certified platinum by the ARIA charts, while its headline single was Song of the Year at the ARIA Music Awards. In the years since, Corby has hardly rested on his laurels – or, pulled a Goyte and disappearing inexplicably after presumably making enough money from their hit single to live comfortably. In 2013, Corby won another Song of the Year gong for ‘Resolution’, part of his debut album ‘Telluric’ which came out three years later. 

Corby takes time with his craft, applying an isolated, low-key Bon-Iver-ish approach. For ‘Telluric’, Corby isolated himself in Derry, New South Wales for part of the production to help produce a paired back and natural album. Corby’s most recent album, 2018’s ‘Rainbow Valley’, which Corby is currently touring, likewise took an alternate and authentic approach. Accompanying the release of the album, Corby released ‘Behind the Rainbow Valley’, a behind-the-scenes documentary exploring the rural approach taken to the album that also happens to be named after Corby’s New South Wales property.

Thematically, the album orbits around the then-impending (when the album was being written) birth of his firstborn, Hugh. In an interview with the Triple J, Corby says ‘I wanted it to be somewhat of a simple instructional [record] for Hugh. About the way I see the world.’ 

But, how has Corby’s evolution been translated to a live performance? 

Corby is raw and unbridled live, an enigmatic and unrestrained force that almost explodes when belting out the more impassioned and taxing moments in his typically emotional setlist. With ease, Corby flitters between quiet and loud moments with the same ease that he switches between the array of instruments he uses on stages: piano, guitar, etc. 

Flanking Corby is a forceful accompaniment of powerful but feminine voices that underline and underpin the melodies and catchy choruses. Dressed in white, Corby’s accompanying performers help established the paired-back, authentic and honest tone he is setting with his live performances. At times, Corby is somewhat ethereal, flanked as it were by angelic voices, but, in others, he is enwrapped by belting, raw and painful segments. 

Listen to ‘All Fired Up’, a track from ‘Rainbow Valley’ released last year.