Start All Over Again – the debut album by Seattle’s The Berries – is a study of the mythology of freedom. It is a modern country-rock record by Matt Berry, under his pseudonym The Berries. It is made up of songs of love and hate, songs under the spell of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt, and songs carved out of the disappointment of a morose Seattle winter.
For those paying close attention to the West Coast’s underground rock scene, Berry perhaps needs little introduction. He has already created a name for himself as the prolific mind behind such treasures as the lushly blown out Happy Diving (Father/Daughter Records) and the tautly psychedelic, Wipers-esque Big Bite (Pop Wig). On Start All Over Again, however, Berry replaces the relentless pace and anxious stylings of his shapeshifting past with a new frame of mind, one derived from excessive reclusion and aimed at indulgent self-awareness, expansion, and a deep fascination with Americana. Besides a single guitar track contributed on the song “Turn It Away” by Charlie Hoffman (of Help Yourself Records label-mates Advertisement), Berry performed and recorded the entirety of Start All Over Again by himself, laboring away over a series of sessions that consumed most of the second half of 2017.
On opener “Salvation,” Berry reminds us that love is the ruler and ultimate power of the universe. Against a backdrop of warm drums and sweeping country licks that twist beyond themselves, he challenges the modern urge to whitewash art with banal cynicism and self-righteous abstraction. “Security Blues” glows with a similar sense of conviction, turning its gaze toward the grim conditions of urban living. Berry laments the world around him turning into an ugly, gentrified, and tasteless playground for tech-elites. The track “Live To Please” burns like a strung-out fire raging in the most heavenly of houses. These are not protest songs, but rather explorations of alternative ways to view the possibility for freedom in a modern world.