Friday, 30 January 2015

Record Review - Matt Andersen

Published in the Shortlist section of The Sydney Morning Herald, January 30.

Matt Andersen
True North Records

Canadian Matt Andersen is a thinking man’s blues player, one more concerned with how a song comes together, how it feels to the ear, rather than flashy guitar pyrotechnics or stale, overused blues platitudes. It’s this considered approach he’s brought to his latest release, one which sees him in top form.

Recorded under the watchful eye of Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, and including two co-writes with Joel Plaskett, Weightless indulges in a range of styles, from the slow funk of opener ‘I Lost My Way’ to the New Orleans-esque title track to the bluesy bounce of ‘Alberta Gold’. As such, the album isn’t so much a blues album, as much of his back catalogue is, but more a collection of rootsy songs that showcase his songwriting and arranging abilities. Throw his rough-hewn voice over the top, and you’ve got a thoughtful and precise album, which ticks all the right boxes.

Samuel J. Fell

Friday, 23 January 2015

Record Review - Goodnight Lenin

Published in the Shortlist section of The Sydney Morning Herald, January 23.

Goodnight Lenin
In The Fullness Of Time
Static Caravan

The West Midlands area of the UK in 2014 is about as far away as you can get from the West Coast Americana sounds that ran warm and lush through the ‘70s, predominantly out of California. And yet Goodnight Lenin, releasing their debut LP from their verdant English home, are closer than most.

In The Fullness Of Time, mixed by Americana wunderkind Jonathan Wilson (credited as an early influence on the band’s sound), is a work that could have come straight out of a CSN&Y session, incorporating a more jagged, grunge influence as well, the end result being a debut well worth the wait.

The grunge edge gives the band a Crazy Horse vibe in places, tracks like ‘The Reason’ rumbling, all dark and rangy, while songs like ‘A Cautionary Tale’, with its country-strummed guitars, and ‘Another Day’, led by slow-burning piano, showcase a solid understanding of how this music can be so powerful. A very strong beginning for a band destined for bigger things.

Samuel J. Fell