Matthew Patrick - Blue Sun
That's what the publicity said. I wondered to myself, what the hell is redneck reggae?
Matthew Patrick (he leaves off his surname for stage purposes) has set out to provide a new twist to a typically American sound, country rock. His latest project, the full length album, Blue Sun, is an exposition of that concept and if redneck reggae is ever going to take off, it is going to start its run up here. "Dog" is therefore something of a surprise, or should I say, it is not what you might have thought. Put a syncopated reggae style beat and a choppy guitar, then fill out with some good harmonica work, the occasional slide guitar and a variety of instruments you would not have seen anywhere near Jamaica. Redneck reggae it seems is not such a contradiction as it might initially propose to be. In fact, "Bikes Bullets and Beer" is not even reggae, but if you were attempting to stereotype a redneck I doubt you could do better than those three words.
Gradually, as the album progresses, the reggae tends to wear off, or at least become less noticeable. "Rich Man Blues" is fairly traditional twelve bar with a cool guitar solo in the middle. "Blue Green Eyes" is one of those summery songs which really deserve a better hearing than indoors on a cold winter night. What you are eventually left with is a collection of songs, well-crafted and well-performed - the guitar work is particularly noteworthy - which are, to a greater or lesser degree, able to hold the attention of the listener. There are, the guitar apart, obvious highlights. The female vocals, reminiscent of Lucinda Williams, especially on "I Am Drunk" and "Rambling Rose" are perhaps most noteworthy
In truth, Blue Sun is not reggae at all. True, it is syncopated and might, initially sound like reggae, but the rhythm is used to underpin sounds which are not all unexpected and do not stray from a more familiar country rock sound. Familiarity mixed with the unfamiliar. Sounds like a good recipe for success. There is something in here, but I am not sure it comes out as well as it might. The production sounds rather monotonous and does little to bring to the fore the critical elements at the right time. Everything seems to have been mixed at the same level. It would probably sound good live, but as a studio recording, it is not so good. But, that can be overcome. Perhaps the major flaw is that the album as a whole, and in truth some of the songs, tend to outstay their welcome. "I've Got Love" for example lasts for less than four minutes, but it seems to stick around for a hell of a long time. If the album sounded less like a jam session and had improved production then we could have been onto a winner.
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