304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
A “British Norwegian” who performed on stage with his dad at age three, at twelve performed at the Notodden Festival with John Mayall and with five albums under his belt by the age of twenty-five, plus his live work with the great German outfit, The Hamburg Blues Band who have seen Clem Clempson and Millar Anderson pass through their ranks…that adds up to some CV and now Krissy Matthews is ready to unveil his latest work which, as it’s on the Ruf label, should see his star rise still further.
Pizza Man Blues was written during lockdown and is a refreshingly honest look at Krissy’s trials and tribulations during this difficult time for us all. As live work dried up, he found himself, you guessed, delivering pizzas…he also delivered flowers, worked as a tree surgeon’s assistant and a volunteer for the NHS (the latter is not linked to the surgeon I assure you). It isn’t pure blues, but a mixture of rock, funk, country all underpinned by a mature sense of structure and, yes, the blues. There’s a nice touch on the cover too, as Krissy is pictured with his delivery scooter on the front (guitar in hand) and on the back, with the pizzas in hand, next to a street sign that says “Pay Me My Dough” with his Strat leaning against the wall. With a pun like that, I won’t feel guilty if some of mine find a way into the review, although I’m not sure I’ll be topping that one!
Opening with the fiery Mayday, will probably get Motörhead comparisons, but it is not that simple: the rattling fuzz riff and the gargantuan chorus are much more, and the guitar work is exceptional. The next track, The Man Said No is about Krissy pounding the pavements around his hometown of Bicester looking for work to sustain him through the pandemic, hence the footsteps and rhythm to accompany the job refusals. The restrained chord patterns back a great vocal performance (although fitting “supermarket” into the verse was always going to be a challenge) and horns play support very well, as does the lovely free-ranging bassline and the lead solo is really clever as he plays with tone, pedal and the runs are genius, even if it ends too soon.
Disaster changes pace as electric piano echoes around the plaintive tale of love separated by lockdowns in different countries, that mixes the Beatles with Supertramp, but then lays down a gorgeous solo to keep it, Krissy. Anti-Social Media is something I am in total agreement with…the vitriol that so many use this modern communication tool for is, frankly, disgraceful and causes so much pain for the innocent and yet it does have a welcome place for those who use it sensitively: Krissy does weighty blues with Stax on the horns and the blues standard structure loan that reoccurs, is only right and proper and works well…the guitar soloing throughout is tasty with a pepperoni bite.
Hairdryin’ Drummer Man is a soulful tinged tribute to the late Hansi Wallbaum, the drummer for the Hamburg Blues Band and sets of with the Batman theme(ish) and is counted in (natch) with the sticks: a fitting tribute to a very good drummer with the humour and the drum runs, paradiddles and rolls slotted in around some nice slide, it adds up to a great song. Perhaps a vision crept into Krissy’s mind as back in 2009 he had a song called Stone Cold Pizza and in 2020 he found he was delivering them…not cold though, I’m sure. Whatever, the title track is dramatic at the beginning sounding like Pearl & Dean adverts (ask your dad…or grandad!) before hitting a great funky slice of blues…and a lovely toned, crafted and paced rock guitar solo.
Ride starts with a neat drum pattern and chords before a true riff steps in but halts for the verses…” she watches me nakedly swim” sums up the promise before the relationship falls apart. Another cleverly constructed solo makes it even better, despite the ‘where’ve I heard that’ thoughts that will be washing around your mind. The next track is steeped in tragedy as it is about “My best friend’s mother was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and has rapidly deteriorated, so those lyrics really hit home.” It’s a good one though with a blues-rock riff, great bass pausing for the lyrics that still give hope…
Carry You has harmony behind the riffing and the solos are suitably dramatic and very good indeed. The final two tracks are the same but different: the first version of Grateful is a country-tinged blues song that opens with harp phrasing and acoustic guitar as Krissy channels his Dylan (but more melodic!) and has a woefully short, exquisite, minimal note electric solo of real quality. The second version is “unplugged” and it may start the same but Layla Zoe adds her drama and emotion into the second verse and chorus and then Felix Peiki delivers a clarinet solo…a bit left-field but it is an imaginative piece of playing. The two singers share the rest of the vocals and make it less country and more gospel blues and different enough from the first to be an admirable inclusion.
This is the kind of album that, on one run-through, will not bring the impact and quality that lies awaiting the patient and the listener, not the hearer. After a few listens, then it all becomes clear and the whole thing is a treat.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful album that takes a few listens before the depth and dexterity on this album shine; plenty of blues and lots of quality guitar…need I say more?
The Man Said No
Hairdryin’ Drummer Man
Pizza Man Blues
Krissy Matthews: guitar, vocals
Joshua Rigal: bass, backing vocals
Max Maxwell: drums, percussion
Greg Coulson: keyboards
Kristel Morrison: backing vocals
Guest musicians on Grateful (Unplugged) – Layla Zoe, vocals and Felix Peikli, clarinet.
Recorded at Buckingham’s Echo Studios in September 2020
Pizza Man Blues is out on 27th August on RUF Records.
Look out for Krissy on some sporadic UK dates between his heavy German tour commitments:
28th August – Foxstock Music Festival, Great Barrington
29th August – Rory Gallagher Festival, Nantwich
5th September – Harvest Time Jazz and Blues Festival, Monaghan, Ireland
9th November – Pizza Express Live, Holborn
23rd November – Bletchley Blues Club
30th November – The Tuesday Night Music Club, Coulsdon
(iTunes moved automatically onto some Swiss heavy rock courtesy of Krokus (who, strangely evolved out of a band called Kaktus or maybe I don’t understand Swiss phonetics!) Anyway, they made some great albums and I listened with pleasure to the classy and rocky Nightwolf from 1