"I Don’t Know" by Mathew Lee Cothran // Failure (Out Now via Bandcamp)
Having followed the career of Mat Cothran (Coma Cinema, Elvis Depressedly, Gremlins) these past several years, I always find myself interested to hear his next step. When that step comes in the form of a new creative moniker, or persona, then I’m further intrigued. The marked difference in the Elvis Depressedly material from the Coma Cinema material may have been jarring at first, but soon provided a new approach and in turn a different type of beautiful music emerged. On “Failure”, we get the first official release from the artist using his full name, Mathew Lee Cothran - and in turn we get some of the more direct, raw, and intimate music from the artist to date. Of course, Cothran was never having much trouble pouring his talents into dark and tortured songs. He’s quite good at crafting songs that, if taken at face value, might make you worry for the man. Of course, as an artist, he should be afforded the trust and respect to create as he wishes and in turn, allow us whatever glimpse into his personal life that he sees fit. That being said, it’s hard not to look at the material on his haunting and lovely new EP, as something more personal and revelatory. On the EP’s closer, the hushed and delicate, “I Don’t Know”, Cothran manages to take the heartbreaking stance that he’s not believing in himself, despite holding himself responsible for a formerly made declaration that he’d never give up. It’s a short song (under two minutes), with a sweet melody and potent delivery, but the real power is in the honesty laid out in the brief verses. It’s not something that has to be immediately personal to Cothran, because he’s speaking for anyone who sets out to create something. That damning weight that you put on yourself, hoping and expecting so much, but feeling failure at most turns. The truth is that in chasing any art, and giving anything of yourself, is in turn some mild victory, it’s just a pain in the ass to trust in yourself that you’re not letting yourself down. It’s in speaking in broader strokes that can appeal to people on their own, instead of honing in on the artist’s own demons, that Cothran sets this project apart from his other projects. Everyone wants to be heard and feel accepted, in some scale. Despite the focus on what it means to be a failure, Cothran once again proves that he’s a consistently powerful writer that deserves an ever-increasing audience and with a little hope, he knows that he’s making a difference whatever name is attached to his output.