Jesse Matas – Tamarock

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 5/5

Jesse Matas has been a singer, songwriter and band front man for 22 years. He is also a published poet with a first collection due to be published in 2019. You can hear his rock poems on tracks like “Monach” where with a voice like Allan Ginsberg or Laurie Anderson Jesse is riffing on words and the sounds of words like a deadpan beat poet. He has the ability to impart great potent and power into his words with his distinctive vocal and delivery like a rock Mary Margaret O’Hara or Bruce Cockburn. “The Myth of Forests”, a spiky guitar and a garage band drum with a spoken poet is disconcerting, unnerving, recalling the disquiet of The Velvet Underground and “The Gift”. With Tamarock written in part in the wilderness silence, there is light amongst the shade with the beautiful guitar interlude of “Sleep” and “Footpath” the succinct closer. “Tamarack” the opening track, is as curiously surreal and cut up as anything on David Bowies Hunky Dory, the acoustic guitar, piano and Jesse’s delivery strongly reminding me of the hallucinogenic folk of “Andy Warhol” or “The Bewley Brothers” as if covered by Tim Buckley. Songs like “Walking Human” and “Rock and Sand” have a real Neil Young vibe, monolithic slabs of guitar and huge drums link straight back to “Down by the River” and “Cortez the Killer”. Tunes crackle with menace and swagger with the power of a circling shark or a darkly confident gnarly cage fighter waiting for a moment to strike. His voice is more Michael Stipe than CSN&Y but that adds to the brooding edge. Like Terry Reid’s “River” or Neil Young’s “Harvest”, Jesse Matas weaves together acoustic pastoral whimsy and dirty electric guitar majesty to make a series of often surreal and left field songs. Spacial and stark like the Gothic Americana of Robert Fisher’s Willard Grant Conspiracy or The Walkabouts. Slip in amongst favourites like Tim Buckley, Neil Young, Mary Margaret O’Hara or early mysterious REM, a quietly confident classic in the making. There is fire in a name.