APRIL ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Imagine Joe Cocker, Santana, Prince, Stevie Wonder and The Beatles having an impromptu late-night jam. The result might sound like the music on ‘The Soul Food Store’ – the emphatic and super self-confident second album from Matt Pearce & The Mutiny.
After last month’s Album of the Month, which I’m still playing, picking something for April has been a bit more challenging. No question, there are many good albums dropping but my call for this month is, I think, influenced by me taking two-months out from the music scene at the end of January. In need of a mental break from the relentless intensity of new release hype week-after-week, I took some time out to rediscover other music – past classics and opening doors into new genres. In coming back to album reviews, I guess I was looking for something more than good media-friendly rock songs for April. I’d rediscovered the importance of letting good music find me, rather than following a tribal sense of loyalty to bands as brands, where sometimes the partisan loyalty to a group is more important than an honest view on the music itself.
Within this context, ‘The Soul Food Store’ was the album that literally jumped out of the speakers and grabbed me. It demanded attention. It involved me and the music experience was enriching. The music found me, rather than vice versa.
Set against the dark world events going on around us, the despair and the worry, this music was the perfect antidote. From the opening chords, here is music bristling with life, purpose and energy. The demonstrable irreverence to creating an album that neatly lives within a sub-genre silo was liberating, the variety of influences was exciting. To many, Matt will be known for his role with British hard rock icons Voodoo Six – a great band that rock hard. With this album, there is a feeling Matt is enjoying the freedom to go on journeys that know no rules or boundaries – to vary, to explore and to simply make the music he wants to make. The result is an album that is natural, truthful and, above all, hugely fun.
My other take-out from this album is it’s a masterclass in the art of good playing. Often with new release songs, I get the sense that the computer editors and producers have been at work too much, or that an artist may be writing music for a defined media market. Here we just have a celebration of great musicians playing well which, in truth, is what music should be about – not just a question of how the tunes sound, but more a case of how the music playing makes you feel. The band plays well together, all the musicians have clear moments – the album feels alive. It’s possibly the closest one can get to the magical feeling of a live performance on a piece of plastic.
‘The Soul Food Store’is an album to enjoy as a body of work from start to finish, but here’s some observations on a few standout songs:
Got a Thing Going On
A really emphatic opening song: Guitar, sax, drums – everyone seems to be playing for their lives on this track. An immediate sense of excitement. Set against all the darkness from our TV screens, here is an injection of life and effervescing bright colours.
Following the smoky blues vocals on ‘All The Gods’, the opening of ‘Promised Land’ reminded me of old Santana fave ‘Smooth,’ with an engaging electric Latin samba vibe and some great guitar.
Bring It All To Me
This song featured on our first of two ‘rock shows for freedom’ last month. A six-minute opus, this is a soulful 70s blues rock ballad which, in arrangement terms, has more than a hint of The Beatles. Whilst classic in its influences, the words couldn’t be more relevant to today’s world ‘that never gives a winning hand.’ A guitar solo that evokes the spirit of freedom, of overcoming, of hope – what we all need as a people right now.
The Soul Food Store
Following blues club swagger of ‘From Here To The Moon,’ this track delivers a complete change of mood and pace. The song written in lockdown that inspired the album, it’s airy and light with vocals that really shine. A song to finish the day to, with the lights down and a nice glass of wine.
Overall, variety and consistency are hallmarks of this fine new album. Musically, Matt’s band explore a range of genres but the song writing and arrangement is consistently good throughout. It’s not one of those albums that fades after track three, the quality holds you for the full album, with the variety of influences and styles keeping interest alive.
Written during lockdown, here’s a musical journey evoking a sense of overcoming darkness with something positive. I’d put this album in the same bracket as Sari Schorr’s ‘Never Say Never’ and Robert Jon & the Wreck’s ‘Last Light On The Highway’ – two albums that somehow seem to sound better on vinyl. Throughout lockdown, these two albums became late night go-to’s for me for months on end, simply because the playing was so effortlessly good and the mood of the music was like a healing tonic after a tough, uncertain COVID day. This album has the same quality, having a musical proficiency and personality meaning it will become one of those vinyls that spends weeks sitting next to the record player, rather than being filed away after a third play.
Heavy on the funk and the blues, with a side order of soul, a garnish of the psychedelic and seasoned with solid rock riffs – this album is a tribute to the freedom of music to engage, lift and inspire. Recent events remind us that freedom may be a word we may have taken for granted for some time. But freedom matters. In a troubled world – and in a rock scene that often limits music within genre silos – this is just great music to enjoy. This music flies free – free as a bird.
The Soul Food Store is released on 29 April 2022
Pre-order the album from 1 April viawww.mattpearceandthemutiny.com
A new two-part interview special with Matt will air on the Friday Show on Great Music Stories Radio in April.
Follow the band online