ALBUM REVIEWS

ALBUM REVIEW

PITCH PERFECT

October 18, 2022

 3.8 out of 5 stars

Matthew Shadley Band

Emerald

By Jay Freeman

The Matthew Shadley Band was formed in 2003 by Matthew Shadley Brauer. An established multi-instrumentalist in several Cincinnati-area bands, Brauer joined fellow guitarist and former college bandmate, Jason Scherrer, with a temporary rhythm section and the makeshift band made its debut in October of the same year, playing an acoustic set at the 5th Annual Harvest Moon Festival held at the historic Southgate House in Newport, Kentucky. Brauer and Scherrer added a more permanent rhythm section and switched to an electric presentation with Brauer on lead guitar and lead vocals. With Chuck Morgan on drums, Jason Peter on keyboards and Tom Legg on bass, the band evolved from folk-rock to a more melodic, electric guitar-driven, alt-rock sound. The band drew comparisons to music as wide-ranging as the Beatles, Buffalo Springfield, the Jayhawks, the Black Crowes, Traffic, the Mother Hips and the Wallflowers. After a long hiatus, Brauer returned to the studio in 2020 during the nationwide COVID-19 quarantine, writing and recording new music as part of the Quarantune Project with other Cincinnati-based musicians. 

In 2021 he released the single "Oh, Karen," (the album’s last track) which was written during those sessions. The work has since continued with the skills of notable session musicians (Kenny Aronoff, Norm Garschke, Luke Oswald, Stefan Olofsson) and former bandmates (Jason Peter, Anthony Rich, Chris Rowell), as well as two of Bauer's daughters (Maggie and Lorelei). Emerald is Brauer’s most ambitious project to date, which features nine original songs and one cover song. It is the artist’s first full-length release since 2008 and was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Brauer's studio on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

The first track was quite entertaining – “Anime Girl” features lots of crisp, popping bass lines, funky drumbeats and soothing keyboard grooves. Lots of funk all around. Something tells me that this might have been what Warren Zevon could have sounded like if he mixed up different styles more. I don’t know, just a guess. “Remnants” opens up with what I think are subway sounds, and then goes into a jangly, piano/guitar pop style. This one reminded me of the Jayhawks in some ways and it features a great guitar solo, too. Next up is “So Far Behind” which begins with a police siren and then the band transitioning into an acoustic folk style. Also in this tune are some classic, Hammond keyboard sounds, a strong rhythm section and great vocal harmonies. This one is reminiscent of the Black Crowes. The album’s title track “Emerald” starts off low, with piano, acoustic and an early ’70 soft rock/folk sound – somewhere between The Band, Warren Zevon, Harry Chapin and Neil Young. Interesting ending too – something that sounds like a helicopter followed by a crackling fire? “In Between” has a fun groove and lots of cool wah-wah guitar sounds. Very catchy! Lyrically, the words are about getting yourself out of a hole, or more like waiting to – feeling low in the in-between parts of your life – like say, the recent covid quarantine. 

“Garberville Blues” has a jangly, southern folk-rock feel, which I think would have an appealing sound for a lot of listeners. “Me and Magdalena” opens with crashing ocean waves and a lighter rock groove. Great vocal harmonies are accompanied by gorgeous guitar and piano melodies. This was one of my favorites – it made me think about driving out on the open road. Next up is “The Alderpoint (of View)” and this one to me had a socially conscious message about it. Not sure if it was the lyrics (something about Pakistan) or simply just the way the instruments were arranged and played. I think this was one of Shadley’s strongest songs on the album. “Ritornello” features very unique, ethereal sounds of piano, synth effects and loops, spacious guitar hooks and some faint singing in the background. This track was the most original sounding tune on the entire album, which set it way apart from the other songs. It’s also completely instrumental. It would be interesting to see if Brauer would record more of this kind of stuff on his next album. I think this song was done very well. The last track is called “Oh Karen” and this one had a different feel to it, too. Pretty chill – it mostly features keys and piano, alongside light acoustic guitar and softer drumbeats. This is clearly the album’s ballad tune, and its message is a sad one. A love song about wanting someone who is giving you the cold shoulder – at least for the moment. 

​Overall, Emerald has strong songwriting and catchy rock melodies that are great to listen to. But for some reason, the album as a whole didn’t seem cohesive to me. I’m not sure if it was the last two tracks that did it, (which were two of my favorites). In any case, give this one a try, I think you’ll enjoy it.

 

 

 

ALBUM REVIEW

Bored City/Right Chord Music

August 19, 2022 - U.K.

The Matthew Shadley Band has released their fourth album, “Emerald” and we can’t get enough of it. “Emerald” features a total of 10 new songs and it’s their first full-length release since “Summer Stone” in 2008. The album features the work of multi-instrumentalist and band founder, Matthew Shadley Brauer, as well as several well-known session musicians.

This album exceeded all of our expectations and it was the best 36 minutes we have ever spent. On our first listen, we were instantly hooked by this band’s writing style. The lyrics are original, well written and the energy behind their performances is incredible. This band has a really unique sound and it stands out, they bring a great variety of tastes and styles to their music that will keep the listeners coming back for more.

On our second listen, the details of the production started to come out and we were able to drift off to the many melodies and production elements present throughout the album. From guitars to vocals, to drums and melodies… it’s a diverse project that can be enjoyed from start to finish and features a timeless experience you’ll enjoy for years to come. We recommend listening through the album from start to finish to get the best experience. Don’t forget to follow Matthew Shadley Band online to stay up to date on any upcoming shows or projects!

INTERVIEW

Bored City/Right Chord Music

August 19, 2022 - U.K.

Q: Hey, can you tell us a bit about where you come from, and what made you want to start a career in music?

A: I grew up in Ohio, but have spent the last several years living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I come from a musical family and began playing guitar when I was about 10-yrs old. I fell in love with the instrument, and as I grew up, I began playing other stringed instruments as well (bass, mandolin, banjo). I eventually taught myself to play piano and drums. It came naturally to me.  

Q: And what other artists have you found yourself listening to lately?

A: I listen to most genres of music, but primarily old-school rock. I do like some of the newer bands playing that style of music (Greta Van Fleet, Rival Sons, Larkin Poe). 

Q: Who were your first and strongest musical influences?

A: My earliest influence was probably the Beatles. The Grateful Dead is another. Alternative music in the 90s was also big for me, particularly Wilco, Son Volt, R.E.M, and the grunge bands from Seattle.  

Q: You have just released your new album, ‘Emerald’. Is there a story behind it?

A: Oh, yeah. I had all but given up my music career in 2008, playing occasional solo-acoustic gigs here and there. When the COVID lockdowns hit the United States, I spent a lot of time at home and eventually found myself involved in a FaceBook group of musicians from my hometown. The goal was to write, record, and share new music every day. That got me started writing new material and also learning new techniques in the studio. I also watched a lot of television programs through various streaming platforms. One particular mini-series/documentary on Netflix was called “Murder Mountain,” which was about the Emerald Triangle of Northern California. I became rather interested in the subject and began reading books about the history of the illicit marijuana trade and the consequences of legalization. Many of the songs on Emerald reflect this. 

Q: Can we expect a new EP or even another album from you in the near future?

A: I hope to release a new EP by the end of this year and an entire album next year. 

Q: What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?

A: It’s my most ambitious project to date. I’ve kept the moniker of the Matthew Shadley Band and utilized some very good studio musicians to support my efforts. Some of the songs are kind of funky blues, some are more Southern Rock, and some are progressive. I think there’s a kind of underlying 1970’s classic rock vibe to the whole work. It goes back to the sort of music I like to listen to. No matter what I do musically, it seems that I always come back to that sort of guitar-driven rock sound. 

Q: Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfillment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more?

A: I’ve never really expected too much, but I feel a certain amount of satisfaction in completing this project. Music is a very subjective experience. As a creative artist, you hope to stay true to your vision and execute the work to the best of your ability. 

Q: Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song?

A: I usually start with the guitar or piano. It could be a chord progression or a riff. I’ll take the idea into my studio and develop it into a near-complete instrumental work, adding bass and drums to give it more structure. Then I work on the melody and lyrics – I like to use words to create images and tell stories. When I think the song is mostly written, I’ll go back to the studio and complete a demo. After listening and making revisions, I’ll either bring in other musicians to add to the song or I’ll play the parts myself. I guess the key is revision, revision, revision. 

Q: What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?

A: I reached a point in 2008 where I’d enjoyed a small amount of success and personal fulfillment as a songwriter, band leader, and performer. But it all seemed to become very repetitive and stale for me. I wasn’t growing as an artist and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Ultimately, I scaled back my efforts until I just stopped playing and performing entirely. 

Q: On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?

A: Just getting back into the studio and writing songs again was a major triumph for me. I’m proud of this album and I’m excited to be back into writing, recording, and performing again. 

PLAYLISTS (Who's Sharing our Music on Spotify)