Wednesday 5 November 2014


CD review

Wildest Dreams

From the opening track of Matt Woosey's seventh album you can hear similarities in sound and style to Sugarman. Exactly AsWe Please is an urbane, blues-influenced slice of Americana with the Hammond organ of Paul Quinn giving just a hint of soul/gospel underneath.

Highly respected Matt Woosey
By his own admission, with this album, Woosey, originally from Malvern, Worcs, is spreading his wings a little and offering more than the blues he is respected for and plays so well.
Here he is branching out into slightly less familiar territory, although fans shouldn't get too anxious there is still plenty of 12-bar in there.
Woosey's voice stays at the bottom end of the scale for most of his songs and at times has that Tom Waits sort of depth to it but slightly less gritty and dirty sounding.
In Wildest dreams you could be forgiven for thinking it was a Billy Idol composition, as you listen to it you almost unconsciously fit in the words to something such as White Wedding as he sings with what could almost be mistaken for the sneering tone which is Idol's trademark.
Same Old Blues does exactly what is says on the tin, it's blues through and through but Woosey moves things on into more of a Springsteen-style rock rift with once again the organ adding that little bit of soul as he reverses the role and allows his picking to take backstage now and again. There are occasions when Woosey does let his singing get down and dirty but, certainly on this track, his voice has a lightness which never seems to match the blues he is banging out.
The blues step up another level for I've Seen The Bottom with the thumping beat opening and the late great Lou Reed-style lyrics.
There is a mixture of rifts in there from the straight blues to the slight undertone of that Pink Floyd style twang. It also carries that notable line as it builds up to the big finale, "If it doesn't kill you, doesn't mean it makes you strong."
Lou Reed
Woosey eases things up a little with Nowhere Is home as his voice takes on an almost lazy feeling where he seems so weary that it's a real effort to continue singing. He does have a distinctive quality to his voice which blends in nicely with this track that could just have easily come out of the Boss' songbook. Strangely enough though it also does have that Velvet Underground quality about it too and once again Quinn is there adding that unmistakable soulful, swinging sound on the Hammond.
The next track is a pure slice of Americana with a road sound where you can almost see Woosey staring out of the window of a Greyhound bus and singing as he travels the dusty roads of the States.
Don't Tell Nobody is much more easy going and occasionally fits quite nicely into the groove of West Coast rock which was popular in the 80s and 90s but Woosey keeps it wobbling a little so it never quite gets comfortable.
Woosey's soft guitar picking opens up Love Is The Strangest Thing and shows his versatility to be able to switch from harder rock/blues numbers to the light more defined acoustic sound.
It's on this track you get a real sense of Woosey's talent on the strings with the Simon & Garfunkel style change of chord as he picks up the pace to move to a more stomping sound which is like a lighter, unplugged version of Seasick Steve.
Just when you think it's an instrumental in comes the eerie, echoing lyrics that have more than a hint of Fleetwood Mac about them.
This is without doubt one of the highlights of the album and is diverse and multi-layered and gives Woosey a chance to show he is not just a blues or Americana player.
Woosey's new album
He goes back to straightforward blues for one of the bonus tracks on the album Hook, Line and Sinker.
 There is something about this track which reminds of Dire Straits and Woosey sings with a breathy voice which seems to be far more natural than when he is trying to scream out the rasping-style holler.
This is a real head nodder and one of those tracks you can imagine listening to on an obscure radio station in the early hours, the kind of station which plays cool and forgotten tracks which are dusted off and turn on a new generation of listeners.
The second bonus track is Let It Flow which has a much funkier sound and quicker beat. It does have a retro feel built in and wouldn't be out of place as a soundtrack to one of the French new wave movies or the American anti-establishment films such as Two Lane Blacktop or Electra Glide in Blue, and there is a Floyd rift in there that is whisker away from plagiarism, then almost as a complete contrast he goes into a slightly Mick Jagger-sounding torch solo. The final track is really padding as the radio edit of the opener.
Woosey is a highly talented and respected musician and when you hear him you will be hard pushed to argue against that.
This is one of those albums which provides just what his fans want but also is varied enough to appeal to wide range of music followers.

Wildest Dreams is out now on Robar Music Records.

The Mike Harding Folk Show

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