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Matt Elliott presents The Calm Before, the seventh album under his own name, following his 2013 album Only Myocardial Infarction Can Break Your Heart and the 2016 20th-anniversary reissue of his 1996 debut as The Third Eye Foundation, Semtex (IDA 111CD/LP). For The Calm Before, Elliott is joined again by producer David Chalmin, who coproduced Only Myocardial Infarction Can Break Your Heart, as well as the musicians who contributed to that album. The six masterpieces collected here fit the logical continuum of Elliott's previous work, but a deeper listen reveals the true strength of the music and lyrics, capturing the essence of what Elliott's art is all about -- folk guitar virtuosity influenced by the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe; songs that start with whispered melodies and end with noisy storms; Elliott's deep, strong voice reaching new levels; and a tendency to avoid any well-known way of making music. Elliott's poetry is also an art in its own right. He prefers to leave his words open to interpretation, but offers a few thoughts about The Calm Before here: "'The Calm Before' is obviously a reference to the expression 'The calm before the storm'. The song itself is about those points in life when a storm arrives, be it a circumstance or a person & the mix of feelings, turbulence, trouble that comes with it but a storm also brings something, it clears the air & can push you into a new situation. . . . 'Wings & Crown' is a song about those who ride high oblivious to the precariousness of their power. It discusses a grand fall from grace. . . . 'The Allegory of the Cave' is very obviously about Plato's famous allegory. . . . about humanity in relationship to the great universe and what lies beyond the Pale. . . . The song is an existential ramble, are we just a bunch of cells? Will what makes our minds carry on after death?" Elliott would argue that we simply cannot know, and that endless return and eternal void are both ideas too tragic to contemplate. Nevertheless, with The Calm Before Elliott delivers another masterpiece, adding a precious stone to his path through contemporary folk music.