When I first heard Matt Duke in 2009, it was his powerful acoustic version of "Kingdom Underground" that caught my attention from Acoustic Kingdom Underground. Any artist who was able to combine a Milton-esque glimpse into Lucifer's perspective with powerful chords and melodies is a force to be reckoned with. Duke has since released the full album One Day Die (2011) and the new EP Love On A Major Scale (2012) – and he doesn't seem to be losing steam.
Love On A Major Scale returns Duke to his acoustic roots, though that's almost a misnomer. His core has always seemed to be the guitar in his music, but with previous outings he's worked in more electric in with the acoustic. The six songs here bring his performances back to simpler arrangements, slower songs, and deeper philosophy in the lyrics this time around. Duke has been on a spiritual quest of late, exploring the world after a vision opened his eyes. And though I'm not sure exactly what he's searching for, his journeys have taken him across the U.S. and abroad and I hope he safely discovers whatever truths he seeks while continuing to create amazing music.
His voice on the EP is at once strong and wistful, with his lyrics calling to the many aspects of love while his fingers pick melodic combinations almost haunting on certain tracks. "Aching Love" certainly echoes that haunting quality, exploring how love can make us tongue-tied and worse as we hope for a glance, a touch, a kiss from the object of our affections.
"Everything Pales" almost has a Don Henley feel to the chords and rhythms as Duke tells the story of the early days of a love affair when things are fresh, new and difficult to speak about: "Hope for the hopelessly/Lost and confused, how everything pales/It's love on a major scale." This is a song of the hope in a shiny new relationship where everything feels amazing and you just want to be together.