Lately I've had a stack of submissions from singer/songwriters, and that's a real sticky wicket for a reviewer. Whack a bush across any continent, in my case North America, and one of these guys/gals will drop out. Everyone (and their friends and relatives) think they have lyrical and musical talent to be different, even the next new thing. Without dismissing individual creativity, these dudes are a dime a dozen. But then along comes some one like Matt Burke, and his cohort on lead guitar Brue Baker, who has the true troubadour craft flowing in his veins and surging through their debut Pretty Close to Very Good.
Invoking blues, reggae, soul, and southern rock, Burke and Baker weave these genres into an infectious and intelligent melodic rock groove. Burke himself can sound like an amalgam of Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, and Jim Croce with an enthusiastic presence. The music has a roots feel merging those influential styles with the rollicking feel of, say, The Black Crowes or Blues Traveler. Take note of Cover to Cover which is equally inspirational, explanatory, and entertaining. The lyrics avoid the weirdly 'my girlfriend screwed me' introspection, preferring more jovial and satirical subjects at times. The Weekend War and Superstar are quite funny songs. The latter, along with White Collar Blues, demonstrates Burke's common everyman sensibility. For his part, lead guitarist Brue Baker seems to prefer ingenuity rather than flash and fireworks. His leads lead but more often add accent and harmony to the proceedings.
The Matt Burke Band's first work Pretty Close to Very Good is truth in advertising. This is ambitious, clever and entertaining music from a seasoned, but up and coming, singer/songwriter. Quite recommended.
The Matt Burke Band's first work Pretty Close to Very Good is truth in advertising. This is ambitious, clever and entertaining music from a seasoned, but up and coming, singer/songwriter.