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Some Mad Hope
Matt Nathanson
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Reviewed: 8/25/2007 by Mike

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Matt Nathanson is a born entertainer. His solid twelve string guitar playing blends seem-lessly with his offbeat banter, covers of classic 80s songs and audience sing-alongs. Without that audience, traditionally his studio albums have lacked the magic he brings into a room. His last album, his major-label debut "Beneath These Fireworks", contained his most cohesive song-writing yet but it suffered from heavy gloss applied during production. His most recent effort, "Some Mad Hope", is perhaps his strongest attempt yet at recreating his live sound. Recorded over the past four years in several different studios, Nathanson's multitude of influences can be easily heard throughout the entire record. The racing opener "Car Crash" declares that he's "wide awake and so alive/ringing like a bell" and he wants to "feel the car crash". By themselves, the lyrics read simple, like thoughts running through his mind. It's clear that Nathanson feels every word he sings and he wants his audience to understand him. "Heartbreak World" channels Bruce Springsteen at his best, with its driving piano and lush strings, resulting in one of Nathanson's strongest works to date. "Bulletproof Weeks" is stripped raw and slow while "The Beat Of Our Noisy Hearts" is slick and fast, proving that Nathanson is comfortable at both ends of the spectrum. One of the most impressive tracks is the propulsive "Detroit Waves" with the declaration that he was "only there long enough to disappear" which lyrically mixes desperation with anger and sadness and passion. Nathanson's vocals are also the strongest on this amazing piece. The album closes with the classic Nathanson sound in "All We Are" which makes a statement about the record as a whole: "every day is the start of something beautiful/something real." It's his most solid release yet. He takes risks, pushes himself to places he's never been before...but he doesn't forget his strengths. It isn't weighed down by gloss but it doesn't sound rough like his earliest releases. This album shows growth and determination to keep growing in the future, not just as a musician but as an entertainer in general. Definitely pick up this release and catch his amazing live act when he comes to your area.

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