Planting roots way back in his high school years with jazz band and school talent shows, Matt Nathanson culminates his experience and hardships with his latest release of Some Mad Hope. Although I would love to see Matt take some more chances and risks with his song writing, this album is a great cross section of what he is about: genuineness, heartbreak, and the hope that life has more to offer than just misery. It is evident that he is still growing as an artist as well as a person, but I foresee lots of young girls falling in love with his sweet melodies and even more candy-coated lyrics.
Matt’s earnest lyrics carried by guitar-driving ballads take you on a rollercoaster ride through manic moments and dark depths. His poetic imagery coupled with a melodic simplicity conjures up deep feelings within the listener, each one of his songs ultimately deeply affecting. The album has a fluid momentum, with sounds ranging from coffeehouse ballads like “Sooner Surrender” and more balls to the wall hits like “Detroit Waves.”
My predicted pseudo first single for this album is undoubtedly the track “Still.” Nathanson belts out the song of his soul, “I remember hearts that beat…I remember you and me…Tangled in hotel sheets/ You wore me out.” It leads you down the path of memories of past loves, past hardships, and past passions, something to which anyone can easily relate. Even though not every single song on this album is a hit in the making, the sheer sincerity behind Matt’s performance is enough for you to say that this guy is good.
The album does tread a bit of a rocky path, for as soon as the stronger numbers grab you, a couple of mediocre songs emerge and you’re ready to throw up your hands and give up, yet just then he hits you with another great hook. The ratio is about 3:1 of decent songs to completely disposable ones. One could initially slight Matt Nathanson’s music as cookie-cutter Braff rock. But at its brightest moments, Some Mad Hope brings forth the artist’s best material to paint a picture of not only some sad human existence or of some anxious right-of-passage, but also of some mad…well, hope.
Ron Sexsmith – Other Songs
Mat Kearney – Nothing Left to Lose
David Gray – White Ladder