At the end of last year, Mathew Lee Cothran retired his Coma Cinema project with the excellent swan song Loss Memory, but the Asheville musician is far from done. Today, he’s releasing a new solo album, My First Love Mends My Final Days, under his given name, the follow-up to last year’s Judas Hung Himself In America. It’s a collection of warm and whispered looping pop songs, continuing on in Cothran’s tradition of illuminating life by asking the right unknowable questions. “Why did you tell me there was an answer for my mysteries?” he sings on one track. “They ain’t going nowhere.”
He confronts his own demons and those he sees around him with care, turning stories of all-American degradation and waste into something beautifully tender and empathetic and sad. Cothran does this through portraits of small-town sports bars and frayed familial connections and through tragic figures like River Phoenix, who gets his own song about walking up to the brink and then turning back.
His enveloping songs have a way of solidifying what’s important in life in simple terms. On one of the album’s best, “Little More Time,” he sings about his grandfather — whose death also inspired much of his last album — and warns against valuing possessions over connections. “Rich folks live their whole lives smiling all the while/ In their final moments they will beg not to die,” he sings. “Money can buy you happiness/ Money can ease your loneliness/ Money will heal you when you’re sick, but money can’t buy a little more time.”
Listen to the album below.
My First Love Mends My Final Days is out now.