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Songwriter Matt Kivel, who co-founded the indie-pop band Princeton with his brother Jesse and friend Ben Usen a decade ago, continues to put his band days behind him and focus on his soft, conceptual folk music. In 2013 he released “Double Exposure,” followed by “Days of Being Wild” the next year, and now it’s time for No. 3, “Janus,” which comes out Feb. 5 on Driftless Recordings. He worked on it with Scottish songwriter Alasdair Roberts, who produced it, and engineer Sam Smith at Green Door Studio in Glasgow, Scotland. Roberts brought in 11 musicians with backgrounds in avant jazz, folk, classical, outre experimentalism and melodic pop to play with Kivel and liven things up. Even with the added accoutrements, the stars of the songs are his lyrics and mellow guitar, as can be heard on “Violets,” the third single to be released following “Janus” and “Jamie’s.” All the songs are autobiographical, inspired by current and past experiences of his life, some big, some small, travels, people, and even watching TV. “Violets” was inspired by watching the documentary “Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.” As can be gleaned from the title, it’s depressing and graphic and it made him sick to his stomach, but it stirred thoughts in him about what draws us to this type of “entertainment,” and to acknowledging that we are all a bit depraved and enjoy observing wicked things, at least from a distance, at least a little bit. The song itself is very relaxing, considering.
||| Stream: “Violets” and “Janus”
||| Live: Matt Kivel performs Jan. 18 at the Echo.