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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Matt Nathanson
Some Mad Hope

Rating: 9/10 ?

August 6, 2007
"It felt like the longest childbirth in the history of childbirths, but by the end, we really got it," explains Matt Nathanson when describing the creative process behind his latest release, Some Mad Hope. And to say that Nathanson really got it is right, as the album is the defining work in his career thus far; a complete triumph within the singer/songwriter genre that seems destined to break the artist through to the top of the mainstream.

Over the years Nathanson has occasionally popped up on the greater radar, but he has mostly existed behind the scenes with a rabid college-age-plus following of mostly females who gravitate toward his lovelorn lyricism and clever relational analogies, and who fall prey to his incredibly witty stage banter at live shows (which was captured perfectly on last year's At The Point, Nathanson's first live release). Album after album of Nathanson's work has depended on this formula and, with Some Mad Hope, the Bay Area singer has nearly perfected it.

Many of the artists within Matt Nathanson's crowded genre tread the same waters, but with time the most successful ones eventually wade ashore. For artists of this ilk, stylistic change is a sign of maturity and growth, and to make Some Mad Hope truly a step forward it is something Nathanson needed to do as well; as nice as he made the basement of his youth look on past albums, it was time for the twenty-something child to leave home and find his own place.

Luckily, his move was a brilliant one. A strong exclamation point, "Car Crash" proves from the beginning that Some Mad Hope is different than anything Nathanson has done before. The infectious melody rocks harder than most of his previous material yet retains the great analogies of living life he's been long known for. "Come On Get Higher" channels the charm and airy pop qualities of Beneath These Fireworks and keeps Nathanson grounded in his roots enough to please the fan base.

Showcasing Nathanson's lyrical ability as well as anything on Some Mad Hope with lines like, "In your wedding dress/ To have and to hold/ Even at my best/ I wanna let go," the song "Wedding Dress" is delivered with a yearning missing on his previous efforts. The song is an instant classic with it's memorable hook and acoustic rhythms. "Detroit Waves" picks up the pace into radio rock territory and Nathanson navigates the waters well. Finally, "All We Are" ends the album with a perfect slow sway, remind us "in the end, the words won't matter/ In the end, nothing stays the same/ In the end, dreams just scatter and fall like rain."

Up to this point, Matt Nathanson was a hard artist to read. On past albums his talent has seemed at times both largely untapped and completely maxed out, repeatedly relying on the same formula. With one fell swoop Some Mad Hope has dashed both of those impressions and proven itself to be a completely realized pop effort from an evolving artist.

Reviewed by Matt Conner
A contributing writer, Matt Conner lives in Anderson, Indiana.

See other reviews by Matt Conner



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