Ajay Mathur – Blow My Cover
This is a Swiss-American release & the music contained is quite accessible with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ajay Mathur (vocals/percussion/bass/hip-hop drums/mouth box percussion) providing a tight groove with authoritative expressive vocals. What’s interesting in the opening cut “Forget About Yesterday,” is how Ajay uses electronics in a rootsy song to good effect. It’s not so much an effect as an embellishment of the vibe.
Despite the simple title “Little Boat,” maintains a formidable rootsy maturity with progressive guitar atmospherics. Nothing wildly indulgent, but tasteful moody strikes from time-honored musical recipes. Almost Nick Drake in tradition vocally but somehow sounding more like Marc Bolan had he gone more acoustic with his balladry & avoided the sonics of T-Rex. This is more in keeping with the swells & softenings once so elaborately displayed in songs like King Crimson’s “Cadence & Cascade,” & “Moonchild.”
The 13 remade songs with contributed performances & interpretations by various musicians throughout the world were made with no constraints & maintained a musical stylization that actually worked as a whole. A crepe Suzette of melodies all held together with the rich tonality of Ajay’s vocals.
Produced by Ajay at the Lounge, Stans, Switzerland the 13-track Blow My Cover (Drops Oct 20– Yakketeeyak Music) is a bit eccentric at times but the melodies hold up, the musicianship is compelling & it’s an interesting twist. The dialogue that comes in some songs adds drama. It has a late-career Tom Waits musical edge especially when the Brecht-Weill haunting accordion passages pass like a gypsy caravan.
“My World,” is superb. There’s soundscape to many of these songs but there’s a lasting sense of character in each composition (“All For You”) that has a rootsy delicacy with little in the way of fangs or venom. There is a classicism to the balladry that’s expressive.
“Walk On the Water,” with all its soundscape & posturing is basically rooted in American doo-wop vocalizing & Ajay has mastered it – it’s flexible, it’s melodic & fueled by nostalgia, greasy guitar licks & smoked-out rhythms. In a word: beautiful. “All Your Thoughts,” is vocally Leonard Cohen-hued. Not necessarily an imitation but a definite hat tip to the great late songwriter with the emotionally driven deep vocals. The song is well-written in that Cohen style & Ajay chisels away exceptionally raw with just an acoustic guitar.
Highlights – “Forget About Yesterday,” “Little Boat,” “Oh Angel,” “Ordinary Memory,” “Comedian,” “My World,” “All For You,” “Walk On the Water” & “All Your Thoughts.”
Musicians – Richard Koechli (slide guitarist), Samuel Mosching (guitar/bass/drums), Michael Dolmetsch (pianist), Stevie Blacke (strings), Christian Winiker (guitar), Asuka (Koto), Rachel Gawell (cello), Fausto Medici (Japanese Taiko-like percussion/avant-garde percussion/guitar/bass/tablas), Marvin Napflin (button accordion), Mary Lou von Wyl (recitation) & Mercedes Bralo (Argentine harpist),
B&W photo courtesy of Ajay’s Facebook. CD @ Bandcamp + https://www.ajaymathur.com/