Sunday, April 28, 2019

Matt Pearce & The Mutiny - Gotta Get Home

Well, here’s an unexpected pleasure.  Matt Pearce plays guitar with hard rock outfit Voodoo Six.  I did not know this.  I’ve heard of Voodoo Six, and maybe heard a couple of minutes of their music. That’s it.  It seems though, that about a year ago Matt Pearce had an epiphany. For whatever reason, he had a sudden urge to draw upon some of his listening habits, and “just knew I had to form a seriously funky blues band.”  And lo, Gotta Get Home is the result – and it’s pretty damn good, folks.
Matt Pearce plays that funky music, white boy!
Like the Chris Bevington Organisation’s Cut And Run, (one of the best albums of last year), Pearce and his buddies have managed to serve up an album of originals that’s imbued with appealing freshness and enthusiasm from start to finish.  But opening track ‘Scarecrowing’ immediately announces that Pearce’s vision involves a hefty dollop of funk being an ingredient in the rocking blues recipe, with a blend of shake yer ass riffing, Stevie Wonder-style clavinet, and a pleasingly twiddly, harmonised tumbling guitar line.
That funk element is in play to some degree across much of the album, but especially on ‘Dig Deeper’, with its infectious hand-clapping dance groove and climbing melody, and also on the closing ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, which is funk-blues with bite, melding a steady rhythm, a gritty guitar riff that throws in a nod to ‘The Wanton Song’, slide guitar undercurrents, and good use of vocal harmonies.
They dial the funk down a tad on the likes of ‘Ordinary Blues’ and ‘Like A Hammer’, but still swing. Both tracks are driven along by twisting and turning riffs of different kinds, and on both there’s clever use of effects to give an inventive dimension to the sound.  The former mellows in its middle eight, with languid slide ahead of a spot on solo, before a coda plays around with the rift again. The latter is a rockier affair with a tough chorus, softened with some female backing vocals but with a head-over-heels bridge.
There’s a bluesier feel to the mid-paced ‘Set Me Free’, which rolls along on an electric piano riff, while a contemplative opening guitar line sets the tone for Pearce’s subsequent soloing.  Bluesier still though, is ‘Worried’, which features Delta blues like guitar picking over a simple metronomic beat, with just some crooned female “oohs” as a sweetener.
On a more soulful level is ‘Some People’, a slower song that’s one of the highlights of a strong album, with a nagging melody that’s liable to become an earworm, a momentary snatch of which evokes the Staple Singers’ ‘Respect Yourself’.  Layering Pearce’s guitar with cascading piano runs and lush organ chords, it again makes good use of vocal harmonies, but in particular it showcases an expressive guitar solo.  And taking that soulfulness into gospellated territory is the title track, with a bullhorn vocal on the opening verse as a precursor to some excellent female backing vocals from Acantha Lang.  It’s got a good hook and another bout of impressive slide soloing, which carries on underneath more Lang vocal explorations to add to the atmospherics.
Gotta Get Home is a very good album – not a great album perhaps, but easily good enough to make me enjoy repeated plays over the last week.  Matt Pearce has done a bang up job of delivering original material with arrangements that make engaging use of funky rhythms, on the money slide playing, some handy vocal harmonies, and refreshing guitar effects to liven things up.  On extended listening I can recognise some of the influences he cites, such as the Black Crowes - but only fleetingly.  Mostly what I hear though, is a sound that is distinctively and effectively that of Matt Pearce & The Mutiny.

Gotta Get Home is released by Mutinear Records on 3 May.

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