Australia has always done Blues well, and often taken its own slant on the genre that began in the fertile soil of the Mississippi Delta. “For Perth guitarist, songwriter and bandleader Matty Wall, it’s all about the emotion at the heart of the genre for his debut album ‘Blue Skies’”
What you get on the debut is “modern blues guitar music that kicks your ass”, an album that has a very loud and glorious guitar tone, seven self-penned numbers exploring the Blues staples of attraction; love, complication and loss, and three very well chosen covers.
Of the original material ‘Burnin’ up Burnin’ Down’ is precise, loud, clean and full of fire it’s a great opener. The rest of the originals fare just as well, from the downcast, gently bleeding ‘Love Gone Away’ and the, um, scorching ‘Scorcher’ (Co-written with Drummer Jasper Miller) through the lean modern storytelling of ‘Blue Skies’ that bursts into bluesy life and some fine impassioned almost Gospel vocals as it closes. Then there’s the soulful ‘This is Real’ and the Delta swing and storytelling of ‘Broken Heart Tattoo’ and the hopeful, uplifting instrumental ‘Smile’.
It’s an album that really showcases the variety and dexterity of Wall and his band and the places he can take the music without losing the essence and the spirit of the Delta. This isn’t music for old men, but rather music that even old men might appreciate, it’s modern, it’s unfettered and it’s damned good.
A great Blues album, though, is often defined by its covers, the interpretation, the reverence, the twists; and Matty has chosen three artists to cover with their own definitive slant on the genre from the golden god – Robert Johnson’s ‘Hellbound on My Trail’, through the inheritor of the Delta Blues tradition – Keb’ Mo’s ‘Am I Wrong’; to the incendiary fire of Hendrix (Voodoo Chile). Of those covers I think we favour ‘Am I Wrong’ simply I guess because it seems more in line with Wall’s originals and to be honest you hear it a little less often!
“Blues has to be about feeling, first and foremost” says Wall, and there’s plenty of feeling wrung out into these grooves…