Matt Nathanson shows a middle of the road quality relatable
to artists like Rob Thomas, Shawn Mullins, and Mike
Doughty on his 6th studio album Some Mad Hope. His first
long-play on Vanguard Records is a rush of romantically-hued songs
which hold onto some mad hope that love prevails. Produced by Marshall
Altman (Marc Broussard, Kate Voegele) and Mark
Weinberg (Ari Hest, O.A.R.), the album cobbles a
succession of chapters that lead into a complete romance novel by
its finish. Nathanson keeps a positive mood inked by rejuvenating
showers and melodic pop hooks tracing strudeling paths through tracks
like "To The Beat Of Our Noisy Hearts," "Wedding Dress,"
and the opener "Car Crash."
Nathanson tells on his website, "In a lot of ways, the album
is about learning what a relationship really can be." He lines
the songs up to tell this story, opening with "Car Crash"
which is expressed as premonitions of a tragedy about to come: "I
want to feel the car crash/ I want to feel the capsize/ The earth
stop, till I'm satisfied." The story comes off the ground with
"Come On Get Higher" as he beams, "Come on get higher/
Loosen my lips/ Faith and desire/ In the swing of your hips/ Just
pull me down hard/ And drown me in love." But all does not
stay peachy with sunsets and fragrant roses for long as he delivers
in "Sooner Surrender" that "I've made a mess of things
you got someone new singing your songs now." For the closer
"All We Are," he ruminates, "I tasted, tasted love
so sweet/ And all of it was lost on me/ Bought and sold like property
in the end, the dreams just scatter and fall like rain." He
sings these words with such conviction that the lyrics feel palpable
like a good romance novel would, luring you into its story and making
you believe every part.
The melodic pop fare of the songs pervades gradual rises and recessions
like ocean waves rolling up to the shore and pulling away with a rhythmic
metronome on tracks like "To The Beat Of Our Noisy Hearts"
and "Heartbreak World." These are songs you could imagine
being played on carousel rides at local fairs or in a movie establishing
the scene where two people who belong together actually come together.
The lyrics and mood of the music projects visuals that enable the
listener to identify with them and even understand, and then apply
them to their own lives. Ballads like "Bulletproof Weeks"
and "Still" are brewed with slowly dabbing beats, gently
spooled acoustics, and melodic shavings compassed towards mild timbres.
Midtempo numbers like "Detroit Waves" and "Falling
Apart" are rejuvenating like the wind blowing in your hair while
you are driving away from a part of your life that you want to leave
behind. "Sooner Surrender" is an acoustic-pop/vocal suite
that purges and cleanses the soul as the closing track "All We
Are" constructs a resolution with a vocal melody that exerts
a sentiment of compassion and hope for the future versed in a melodic
Matt Nathanson co-wrote the songs on Some Mad Hope with his
producer Mark Weinberg. They show the melodic pop apogees of Teddy
Greiger but with more adept sophistication steered by adult contemporary
gauges. Like a good book, it is an album that you can take with you
wherever you go and lets you know that resolutions are possible.
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