Jesse Matas — Tamarock
(Bandcamp no#, 2018, CD / LP / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-08-29
The debut solo album by Canadian singer-songwriter Jesse Matas is an open heart collection of folk songs, half-spoken poems set to music, along with some gritty guitar workouts and one short but succinct instrumental. I have to confess to knowing next to nothing about his band Crooked Brothers, who made their last album Thank You, I’m Sorry five years ago. In the time since Matas has been composing, writing poetry, and creating artwork, some of the latter can be found on his site, along with the lyrics to nine of the ten cuts on Tamarock (remember, “Sleep” is an instrumental), along with videos for several of those and some Crooked Brothers tunes as well. Matas sings and plays guitars, banjo, mandolin, and (I believe) harmonica throughout the album, and in fact several of the best cuts just feature him and few aditional arrangements (outside of possibly overdubs). Other musicians contribute drums, piano, bass, violin, hurdy gurdy, and backing vocals, track depending. “Rock and Sand” and “Walking Human” are full-on rock tunes somewhat reminiscent of Neil Young in his Crazy Horse period. “Hardline” takes a folky, acoustic Neil Young-like approach as well, no doubt an influence on Matas. “Monarch” and “The Myth of Forests” are essentially spoken poems over energetic musical backing, two tracks that didn’t interest me much at first but have grown on me over numerous spins. “Peace River Song” and “Before, We” make the most out of the simplest arrangements – the former only banjo, harmonica, and vocals, the latter acoustic guitar, piano, bass, and light-touch drums with backing vocals. The opener “Tamarack” follows a similar gentle acoustic arrangement, although more stylish. One thing that must be mentioned, Matas has a lot to say with his lyrics, whether he’s exploring more acoustic folky arrangements or rocking out. In all, Matas is a promising songwriter that’s trying to bring a lot of diverse styles together, and succeeding.
Related artist(s): Jesse Matas
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