Sunday, April 24, 2022

Matt Pearce & The Mutiny - The Soul Food Store

Where to begin?  I know – Julia Roberts.  Remember that scene in Pretty Woman where Julia comments on the length of her legs, and tells Richard Gere that she’s providing “88 inches of therapy wrapped around you for the bargain price of three thousand dollars”?  Well, I don’t suppose Matt Pearce has Jools' pins, but The Soul Food Store provides 56 minutes of musical pleasure for the bargain price of eleven quid.
Gotta Get Home, the attention-grabbing 2019 debut album from Matt Pearce & The Mutiny, was a Stevie Wonder-tinged chunk of funky rock, and The Soul Food Store picks up where that left
Matt Pearce, floored by positive Blues Enthused review
Pic by Tina K
off, as opener ‘Got A Thing Going On’ bowls in with a funky, good-time groove, seamlessly melding together crunching guitar chords, thumping drums, bubbling bass and flaring horns.  It’s a hook-laden pleasure, topped off with a burst of wailing sax from Steve Beighton that gives way to a brief but scorching guitar break from Pearce.
So far so very good.  But while this was very much the sound of Gotta Get Home – and there’s more of it to come - Pearce and his crew pull some different rabbits from the hat this time around.  ‘All The Gods’ features another strong hook, but this time in the course of an epic-leaning slowie.  It's got a nagging guitar riff, fluttering keys, and some weighty guitar chords in the bridge, as a preface to a moody, thematic solo from Pearce.  ‘Promised Land’ has a toughened-up Latin vibe, with a neat and catchy staccato pre-chorus, and progresses through some skidding keys from Jon Moody into a fierily Santana-esque Pearce solo.  Then he gets a slide on his finger to deliver some swooning notes over simple piano chords on the intro to the Beatle-ish, guitar-weeping ‘Bring It All To Me’.  There’s a wistful chorus, soulful organ, and subtle, spot-on backing vox from Daliah Sherrington, and even as Pearce knocks out some Duane Allman-sweet slide breaks it remains all about the song.  Later on, too, there’s the delicious ballad ‘Beautiful Disguise’, which bridges the woozy late-night vibe of ‘Cry Me A River’ and the romance of ‘Sea Of Love’.  It’s an old-fashioned kinda thing, with strings courtesy of Richard Heacock, given a modern, glossy delivery, and with an exquisite, melodic guitar solo to boot.
Getting back to the booty-shaking fare though, ‘From Here To The Moon’ has a finger-popping, sax-smooching intro before bursting into vibrant life with a simple, chunky riff, another killer hook, and – underlining a clear Pearce forte - another course of serpentine slide playing as Kelpie McKenzie’s bass locks in the snapping drums of Joe Lazarus. It’s funky rock to be sure, but here and on the upbeat, driving ‘Never Get Away From Love’, with its tripping rhythm and spacy solo, there’s a distinctly British slant in evidence.  Hell, the punchy, strutting ‘Don’t Take It So Hard’ even down-shifts into an extended, razor-sharp guitar solo that melts into sax and vocal harmonising carrying echoes of ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’.  It’s a seven and a half minute noodle-free zone.
There’s a nu-soul side to the slinkiness of the chilled title track, mixing brittle-toned guitar and jazzy organ.  But the pace is hotter on ‘A Better Way’, with its handclaps and scuffling guitar riff, and if Matt Pearce demonstrates throughout that he knows the vocal vibe of stuff like this inside-out, with on-the-money phrasing, he’s still not shy about capitalising on Sherrington’s top-notch singing, which provide some smart counterpoint here.  And there’s more wiggling, wriggling funkiness on the album closer ‘King Of The World’, with its throbbing bass, popping snare.
Salutes and medals are due to all of Pearce’s Mutineers, an ensemble who are on it throughout, and sound like they’re having fun in the process, revved up and given clear direction by Pearce, who leads the whole enterprise with brio.  The Soul Food Store is music with a smile on its face, and it works an absolute treat.

The Soul Food Store is released on 29 April by Mutinear Records, and can be ordered here.

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