Sometimes you have to be impractical to enjoy yourself.
Throughout the nineties, Matt Keating has established himself as a kind of new Tom Petty, with his mixture of pop, rock, country, and Americana. Even down to the shades-and-hat publicity photo. Not exactly the type of music you’d expect to be released as a very risky double CD album, but probably the kind of music that should be. It’s a mammoth undertaking, twenty-three tracks in all, so just on that score it’s likely that this will attract existing fans only initially.
It’s pop music pure and simple, radio friendly, and well written. Wistfully romantic, delightfully non-risky, the lyrics are perfectly observed and yet about nothing specific. It’s a musical road trip, but for a very long journey. You can listen intently, absorbing every detail of the words and sound, or you can put it in the background where it sits comfortably.
Opener ‘St. Cloud’ could easily have come off ‘Full Moon Fever’ or something similar, its optimism and exuberance shine through. But it’s not all sweetness and light, the delicate and heartfelt ‘Do In The Dark’ hints at a darker side without ever missing a perfectly timed beat or soft groan. Never one to stand still, this album is a real mixture of influences and observations. Sometimes rockier, sometimes leaning towards ballads. The lyrics change topics seamlessly in the same way; one minute wistful over a girl or town, the next getting more serious with the likes of the anti-military ‘Sorry Son’.
If this is the result of a decade dedicated to songwriting, it has really paid off. Keating mixes influences such as Cohen and Dylan with simple riffs and catchy choruses that almost defy explanation. It sounds like Keating is really enjoying the whole band experience once again. My advice? Just listen and enjoy.
It’s such a shame that these beautifully crafted bits of pop rock won’t get more recognition, and that’s simply due to the sheer length of the album. You could buy single mp3s, but that would defeat the point. When it comes to pop, less is most definitely more. But who wouldn’t want as much as they can get of this beautiful music? Quixotic indeed.