304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 5 Doodle Paws – a stupendous album of diversity, perfect pace and such wonderfully crafted songs that reveal more with each listen and you are rewarded with a faultless album of blues, rock, soul, funk and added Matt!
The first release by Matt Pearce and the Mutiny (Gotta Get Home) was one of my albums of 2019 and so I have high hopes for the follow-up. It has a great deal to live up to, especially as Matt has not rested on his laurels, but has blurred yet more boundaries on The Soul Food Store. As he explains:”…this album is about me being at home, with all the music I love. So, as well as the funk and the rockin’ blues, there’s some soul, ballads, psychedelic, and maybe even a little disco vibe creeping in. All the sounds that put a smile on my face and that I hope will do the same to you.” Err, OK; not sure about the disco bit but, with his guitar skills and compositional nous, I am happy to give it a try.
Before that, in case you don’t know Matt, a potted history…Glasgow born, he started playing at thirteen and learning all of the rock songs of the day but always had the awareness of funk and soul…he cites Stevie Wonder and Superstitious as having a big impact. His first group was V6, along with Priest axeman Ritchie Faulkner but is better known as the power behind vastly underrated rock band, Voodoo Six.
To the eagerly anticipated music, and opener Got A Thing Going On doesn’t disappoint with a class riff backed by horns and pedalled guitar. Matt’s vocals are as strong as ever and, although the funk, Stax feel creeps in, it is still a good, bluesy rock number that draws parallels with Thunder…a good thing. The sax solo is good and morphs neatly into a short guitar solo of quality. The next track ploughs an entirely different furrow as a great bass line and snare work underpins the psychedelic guitar intro to All The Gods. A riff that is very clever, as well as catchy, builds the melody and, with some nice organ in the background, it has echoes of early (and very good) Heep. The guitar solo that follows the melodic bridge, is thoughtful, has just enough notes and adds to the drama of a very strong song.
Promised Land keeps us guessing as a Santana like Latin tinge but keeps the blues firmly at its root…Daliah Sherrington’s sensitive backing and duetting adds depth; there’s some seriously good guitar and keys in the backing and the solo from Matt is a brilliant combination of careful tone, runs, bends and sustain. With hints of the 60s and 70s, the bluesy six-minute plus ballad that is Bring It All To Me will undoubtedly bring Beatles comparisons but it develops beyond that into a lyrically powerful song as well as such depth in the backing that multiple listens reveal more each time: the vocals, the piano, the subtle bass and intelligent drumming, effective slide adds colour and builds the tension that is unleashed in a superb solo…now that’s how to use a bottleneck albeit lamentably short, and that’s counting the extended slide outro.
From Here To The Moon ups the pace with its out and out blues-rock motifs: classic count in, fingers clicking, sexy sax and then a riff that will capture you from the off. Ingredients that all add up to a simple, yet complex song that would have been a massive hit in the 70s when proper music regularly made the charts. A glorious slide solo with horny backing is irresistible. The title track, The Soul Food Store, returns to hints of Latin with the clever percussion and whispered vocal intro. An acoustic guitar weaves around the rhythms and Matt’s vocal is a combination of breathy and upper register work that is very effective. This is another track that needs multiple listens as the organ, bass and acoustic work is first class and prepares the way for a simply stunning acoustic solo. Don’t Take It So Hard takes us back to rock with an ingenious riff underpinned by funkiness and melody. The slower paced bridge and backing leading to the brilliant guitar solo does have Floydian hints…but I forgive him as this is a truly excellent song.
Never Get Away From Love shows again how Matt is happy to embrace so many sounds and has the enviable ability to weave them together…funk, soul, rock and a Heepy psyche combine effectively (apart from the slightly intrusive hi-hat ‘clicking’) but that may be the slightly muddier production as the slide is a bit buried but still brilliant. A Better Way is funky blues rock with its multi-layered backing allowing the sonically perfect duetting of Daliah and Matt to shine once again. The chord sequences and lovely solo make me think of a funky Budgie on Bandolier…listen closely and you’ll see what I mean.
The penultimate track, Beautiful Disguise, sounds like an early 60s blues/soul ballad but is brought bang up to date with Matt’s unfailing arranging skills: strings, great bass line and keys topped with a tasty, tasteful and very clever guitar solo that matches the lyrical beauty perfectly. King Of The World wraps it all up with a rocking song that plays a neat trick with a recognisable drum and guitar intro that will get you searching the memory banks and yet it is all original and is a nice romping close to a damn good album. OK, it has a sax solo rather than a guitar but the whole thing works so well and Matt kindly tells us “And that’s all” at the end but leaves us ready to hit the repeat button straight away.
This may not be as immediate as Gotta Get Home but, with the sonic tapestry woven with the diverse musical strands Matt has selected, it will get to you and will become one of the best albums of the year…again! It has perfect pace and such wonderfully crafted songs that reveal more with each listen and you are rewarded with a faultless album of blues, rock, soul, funk and added Matt! (Well, added gloss really, but I couldn’t resist.)
Got A Thing Going On
All The Gods
Bring It All To Me
From Here To The Moon
The Soul Food Store
Don’t Take It So Hard
Never Get Away From Love
A Better Way
King Of The World
Matt Pearce: vocals, guitars
Kelpie McKenzie: bass
Joe Lazarus: drums
Daliah Sherrington: vocals
Jon Moody: keyboards (Joe Mac tracks 4&7)
Steve Beighton: sax
Richard Heacock: strings
Julia K: string arrangement
Mark Greenfield: percussion
Terry Edwards: trumpet
All tracks written, arranged, and produced by Matt Pearce
(iTunes stayed on the Matt and brought another great blues guitarist to my speakers as Back at Square One by Matt Schofield resonated in so many ways.)