I looked forward to this LP when I saw it came from Landslide Records. Back in the 80s, they released many fine LPs — one of my favorites was a rare 1983 solo LP (Middle of the Night) by one of their producers Bruce Baxter that was excellent.
While some of the guitar tunings sound a bit 60s retro the sound of Mike Mattison’s 10-track Afterglow, (drops March 20) on Landslide is superbly recorded by producer/engineer Tyler Greenwell (drums, percussion) & Mike himself (vocals, acoustic guitar).
Mattison worked with the Derek Trucks Band (as lead singer) & Tedeschi Trucks Band when each won a Grammy for Best Blues Album. While this LP is more in a garage band tradition the results are sweet. Upbeat tunes, crisp performances & energetic arrangements with instrumentation by the late Kofi Burbridge (keyboards), Franher Joseph (bassist from Delta Moon), and Scrapomatic’s Paul Olsen (guitars), Dave Yoke (guitar) & Rachel Eckroth (keyboards).
“Deadbeat,” is a wonderfully mannered Allman Brothers-Marshall Tucker Band type rollick with excellent growly Mattison vocals on a galloping melody. “Word’s Coming Down,” & “On Pontchartrain,” offer what I believe could be a nice hat tip to the late Tex-Mex legend Doug Sahm. Its presentation suggests these could’ve been covered by the Texas Tornados. Good groove on each.
While “All You Can Do Is Mean It,” & “Kiss You Where You Live,” falls back to a more popish folk-rock vein: latter-day Searchers (“Everything But a Heartbeat”) – Critters (“Bad Misunderstanding”) the effort is commendable. It’s carried off with a pleasant melody/arrangement & glides along with soothing vocals.
Changing gears to an edgier take & prodding beat is “I Was Wrong.” It shows a good turn at diversity. Mindful of the efforts of English rocker Dave Edmunds when he tried to recreate a 50s blend without being too retro. What makes this Mattison song potent is the underlying acoustic guitars just under the surface of the lead guitars. Crisp winding tones & Viking ship oarsman beat.
Mattison succeeds to maintain a tradition throughout his songs but at the same time recreates them into a style decidedly his own. The vocal accentuations are strong & the vitality — high octane.
The only misstep is the falsetto soulful ache of “I Really Miss You.” This LP is not a Prince effort & a singer like Mike doesn’t need to be compared to him. It doesn’t work among these other stellar Americana-Southern rock efforts. The song itself is good. The performance just doesn’t fit among the other more Southern contemporary fully realized songs. What were they thinking?
“Got Something For You,” returns Mike to the heartland. This is home. Reeks of gin-soaked saloon happy to be alive attitude. Mike is too good a vocalist to rely on imitation – with a song like this he sings confidently as Mike Mattison is known to do. I will play this one again.
The 40-minute CD is available at Amazon and here http://www.mikemattison.com/