sounds rejuvenated on The Imagination Stage
, only his fifth album in a dozen years but the third in relatively quick succession for the Empyrean label. But just when fans could start to worry that too much of Matthews
' work was flooding the marketplace, he's broadened his palette, stretching the boundaries and beginning to work in more intriguing shades. Sometimes it's with a simple technique, as on the several instrumental passages that allow listeners to focus on the clever arrangements (and not worry about Matthews
' usually similar-sounding vocals). But often it's the interwoven arrangements, harmonies, and interesting instrument choices that make The Imagination Stage
such a wonderful record, encompassing everything from a tastefully bashing drum kit to an analog drum program to the type of subdued brass that has been a hallmark of Matthews
' work since he debuted in 1995.