Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Matt Keating – Between Customers

As a kid Matt Keating had a summer job working the counter at a 7-11 (next time you dis the 7-11 clerk, keep in mind the guy could someday be one of the great songwriters of his time – it’s happened at least once already). The title of Keating’s new album alludes to that teenage gig and also to a line from the album’s opening song, a ironic tale of missed connections with a trick ending that more than hints at revenge or schadenfreude but turns out simply sad. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, a lot closer to the stark, mostly acoustic Americana flavor of his 2006 Summer Tonight cd rather than the electric clang of 2008’s Quixotic (simply one of the greatest janglerock records ever made.) Sparse electric and upright bass by Jason Mercer and minimal drums by Mark Brotter drums underpin Keating’s judicious layers of acoustic and occasional electric guitar and keyboards. As usual, his lyrics are terse, crystallized and loaded with double meanings that run the usual gamut from bitterness to melancholy to unhinged anger, along with a couple of surprisingly upbeat, even wise numbers

Cut number two on the cd, Daddy’s on the Roof, looks at family dysfunction from a kid’s snidely matter-of-fact point of view, tensely shuffling verse giving way to sarcastically blithe chorus – when everyone around you is crazy, sanity can be a liberating force. The catchy, swinging anthem Louisiana posits the personal as the political, a hauntingly allusive tale of love gone wrong at the end of a Gulf Coast road trip at the worst conceivable time. A vividly wistful Claudia Chopek string arrangement provides the atmosphere for the uneasy lullaby Go Down, a feeling amplified in the Cheeveresque anomie ballad Tree Lined Streets.

A metaphorically charged country-flavored tune, The Writer Next Door reminds how much you have to be careful living in these little New York apartments – you never know who might immortalize the things you regret saying most! Remember When, stately and gospel-tinged, takes where Lennon went with Imagine and makes it personal:

Remember when we could
Listen without ears
See without our fear
Look without our years
Remember when we went
That far
The final cut takes that resolve and turns it into a carpe-diem ballad. There’s also a bonus track, a gorgeously blue-sky acoustic version of St. Cloud, from the Quixotic album. With pretty much every year that passes you can pretty much count on Keating to deliver another first-rate album to add to his substantial body of work: count this among them. Matt Keating will be off on European tour this spring, with a final New York date next month at the Rockwood.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment