As you may or may not know, I occasionally have a sweet tooth for a singer-songwriter type. Such is true of Matt Nathanson, a young man who in the past few years has quietly released a number of records and toured the land. I've never heard of him, of course, until about a month ago, when I somehow stumbled upon him via a method I can't really recall. It was his song "Car Crash" that won me over; it has an upbeat tempo, a rich melody, and an overall vibe that reminds me of vintage Buffalo Tom. So, being won over by that song, I sought out his latest album, Some Mad Hope. The rest of the record doesn't quite have the instantly addictive quality of "Car Crash," but the songs, well, they're good. Especially "Bulletproof Weeks." The songs found on Some Mad Hope vary between breathy singer-songwriter fare a la Semisonic, Coldplay, and Ryan Adams, and, well, I can't think of anything better than that. And "Sooner Surrender" is a wonderful little love song, too.
When I dream of the city and I envision myself wanting to be able to go places here and there, or to go a place and not feel obligated to go anywhere, if I so desire, I would like to think Matt Nathanson's music is playing. In the bookstore, in the bar, in the boutiques, in my mind--his is the friendly, enjoyable sound I would like to relate to shopping, of socializing, of being in a functioning culture. His is the music for an audience with social skills, who don't necessarily care so much about music as a thing to be examined and analyzed by itself, but as something to be enjoyed as a part of something broader--a night out, a party, a phase of life. Nathanson's music is friendly, affable, universal. It's not pandering to an audience, nor is it underachieving as a mask for a lack of talent. It, simply, is.
Listen To: "Car Crash"
Some Mad Hope is available now on Vanguard Records
Labels: Matt Nathanson, reviews n, Vanguard Records