Following a pair of albums made up almost exclusively of original material, 1994's The Dark Ride proved that Iain Matthews' newfound prolific nature wasn't just a backlog of tunes collected during his time off, as he penned 11 of the 13 songs (one co-written by Michael Fracasso and producer Mark Hallman). Like its predecessor, Skeleton Keys, The Dark Ride shares an acoustic, country-folk feel that fits the songs well, even if it can be a little too tasteful and nondescript at times. With a sound that borders on generic singer/songwriter territory, it's Matthews' voice, which is as good as ever, and his songs, which are hit and miss, that have to carry the day. Here he's at his best when he's at his most personal and introspective, as on cuts such as "I Drove," "Tigers Will Survive (Part II, Darcy's Song)," the title track, and what may be the record's most intimate and powerful tale, "For Better or Worse." Written for his wife, who had been a victim of rape, "For Better or Worse" is at once painful, compassionate, and graphic, while conveying both the helplessness, confusion, and anger of the situation. It's moments like this that make some of the lesser material all the more disappointing. There's enough here to attract folk fans and devotees, but history shows that Matthews is capable of more.
AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach