Imagine if Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett hadn't melted down but developed into an accomplished multi-instrumentalist/solo artist. Meet Matt Leonard Price. This British acoustic guitarist/pianist/poet, best known for his work with band Harrison in the 80s, presents a movingly heartfelt disc full of gentle gems. Sleeping Pill Mannequin does not rock, but it's far from slumber inducing. Prepare to be intimately charmed. 13.5/16 [very good] (Progression, Issue 62)
For better or worse (mostly better), Price's sound is straight out of 1968....Matt Leonard's wistfully ironic lyrics make it work. [He] draws you in on third track "The Last Roses" via touching lyrics that are downright, well, poetic. Additionally mellow, introspectively emotive tunes follow. "Rain Will Fall and Rivers Overflow," a song of aging and loss, might bring a tear to your eye. But Price's wry sense of humor brings welcome lightness in "Rat Catcher". The music's prog leanings are very reminiscent of King Crimson and Yes, especially in the keyboard and guitar work. It's hard to deny that Matt Leonard Price is a good musician. He is exceptional at the piano and keyboards. This is very evident on the title track where he lays down a great keyboard solo that is perhaps the highlight of the album. (Sea of Tranquility)
Anyone missing the gentle, pastoral musings of Syd Barrett or Nick Drake will surely warm to the second self-produced outing from this singer-songwriter. There's an ever-so-English quality running through serenely paced nylon string and piano-led songs on offer, comprising 11 originals plus a resetting of lines by A E Housman. The title track showcases the cracked vulnerability of Price's voice, 'Short Lived' conjures the more focused moments of The Incredible String Band, and 'Sister Eva' revives the more contemporary spirits of Blur and Paul Weller. If Ratty and Mole went boating through Virginia Water in 1967, this would be on the portable Dansette.
(Acoustic, Issue 44)
MLP (if that is how we should abbreviate him) plays a singer-songwriter style with guitar and piano, plus a bucket of restrained background instruments from accordion to old school Hammond organ... the whole thing making a lovely, fairly quiet but never bland parade of intelligent music. I wouldn't describe it as folk, but folkies will love for example `In Valleys Green and Still', Matt's haunting arrangement of not one but two AE Housman poems, which he combines into a single piece with a great tune and eerie backing tracks. There's a WW1 song, `Ypres to Verdun', which avoids being trite or overstated but is still reverential and emotional. People who like well-crafted lyrics and pathos will find plenty to like. There are v few tracks here that you can't sing a snatch or two of after just one listen ...and I'm still listening (and singing) after many more than that... A great CD. (Amazon Reviewer)
Hi Matt, Thanks for sending the cd in. Am playing it now and love it. (Radio Wildfire)
It's difficult to give an accurate description of Matt's work as it's so original. The songs, broadly acoustic and without drums, are honest and heartfelt, moving and entertaining. Some bring tears to your eyes while others put a smile on your face. Matt plays acoustic guitar, piano and keyboards to add to his great voice. (Fatea Magazine)
In recent years, as well as continuing to write songs and instrumental pieces, I've composed incidental music and vocal numbers for theatre works, also taking the role of Musical Director; first for the play October 1917, and then for 1918 - A War Cantata, with texts by historian Steve Newman. Both works were performed in Stratford-upon-Avon, in October 2017 and November 2018 respectively.
October 1917 deals with a number of interwoven themes from this turbulent time in world history, from the demise of centuries old empires - most notably the Russian and Ottoman - to Lenin’s new order, and the conflict and espionage of the First World War. The drama is developed through characters ranging from Rasputin and Tsar Nicholas II, to T. E. Lawrence, Somerset Maugham, and an Armenian refugee. Many of these are given solo arias, duets and set pieces, through which their various personal circumstances are evolved, and some key dramatic moments suitably advanced.
The War Cantata, as the title suggests, is designed for an oratorio-like performance, and whilst there is a broad narrative embracing principal characters and events of WWI, the structure and emphasis are deliberately more musical than dramatic.
Unfortunately no recordings were made of the live performances themselves, and so the versions here are sung by myself and one of my daughters, and for my part I ask that the listener be lenient where my tenor is occasionally pressed into service to sing words and melody convceived for a mezzo or contralto.
In 2020 material from both of these shows, together with several new songs which I am currently composing, will be consolidated into a single work of about two hours length and styled (perhaps ambitiously) as a chamber opera. It is hoped that a first performance of this work will be given during 2020, depending on the availablity of funds and the required musical forces.
Here are the only YouTube videos I've uploaded. They focus rather too much on the flippin' computer screen because they were entered into a competition hosted by Pianoteq software (which is brilliant, created by talented French mathematicians), the principal focus of which was to demonstrate the amazing software, not to judge the compostions per se.
I've been writing and singing my own material all my life. When I was 14 years old I entered a regional composition competition open to all ages and won First Prize, which really surprised me.
Through my school years I was in a few rock bands, never doing cover versions, only original stuff. That was fun. I recorded a few songs onto cassette when I was about 16 by sellotaping a crummy old condenser mic onto the music stand of the baby grand piano at home.
My first response from the record industry came a bit later when I was 18: Le Beat Route Records (London), impressed by a demo cassette, sent their man by taxi to my mum and dad's house (we lived about 100 miles north of London!) to discuss a possible recording contract. Sadly this never came about but, excited by the possibility, I quickly founded a new band with some old school friends, and through a couple of incarnations this ultimately developed into the indie band Harrison (1983-85).
After a couple of years on the road, gigging around the country, Harrison received some favourable attention, first from Chrysalis and then from CBS, both of whom paid for studio time and proposed substantial development deals. Muff Winwood of CBS even made the journey to see Harrison play a gig in my Midlands hometown.
Harrison's perennial and now (apparently) collectable 45rpm "There is No Refrain" B/W "Simply This" was recorded in Birmingham's Sinewave Studios and cut by Mayking Records. It received plays and praise on the John Peel radio show in the mid 80s. But not long after that Harrison unfortunately disbanded.
I continued writing and recording lots of new songs, and sent a string of demos to A&R departments. I even built a low budget, tin shed recording studio for the purpose. Loads of songs were sent out, but they either came back with the "dear Matt, thanks, but..." letter, or were never seen again.
Recently I've written loads more songs and recorded a few CDs - released under my own independent label Riverhead. Some of the songs can be heard on this site or on Soundcloud.
In addition to songwriting and music for stage productions and video, I've had poetry published in notable journals (Verse, Understanding, Orbis, Poetry Nottingham, etc.) and in a hardback anthology. In 2004 I wrote a short dramatic text which was performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of it's Stratford Voices event.