As usual at Strange Brew, it was a good show. Matt Sever's music conveys an interesting combination of vulnerability, strength, curiosity, wit, melancholy, and hope. His voice is strong, but nuanced. Emotionally, his music somehow manages to contain themes about broken relationships and sad situations, while simultaneously conveying a sort of calm, "c'est la vie" sort of attitude. His tunes remain a little bit whimsical and hopeful, even when the subject matter isn't really upbeat.
|(Matt the Electrician, Nuala Kennedy, and A.J. Roach- with Fred the bass player)|
Sever's also a really good folk guitarist. He's great with fingerpicking and rolls and hammer-ons, and he gets a great sound from his acoustic guitar (I'm not sure what's going on, but I noticed that he has two different chords coming out of the same guitar, so I guess he's got two distinct pickups in there). Really good timbre to the sound.
If I had any complaint at all about Matt's part of the show, it might be that he was a little heavy on the banter between songs. He seems like a nice guy, and he's pretty funny, but there was enough talking at different points that I started to get impatient about wanting to hear more music. He also made a sort of mild complaint about the fact that Tony Hawk was kicking off the X-Games on a half pipe somewhere across town during the set, and he sort of wished he was there. Not terrible, but kinda weird to hear a performer tell you that they have somewhere that they'd rather be when you're there to hear their music. He gets honesty points, I guess?
|(Matt y Nuala)|
They played a number of songs together. They ranged from very good to sort of middle of the road for me. In truth, I liked Nuala Kennedy's voice and her flute playing a little better than I liked A.J.'s singing or guitars. Her voice had a lilting, mournful quality to it, but very pretty. She also skillfully played a sort of Scottish flute, and it added a whole different, interesting dimension to the songs where it appeared. Some of her flute melodies occupied the space where I'm used to hearing guitar solos, and the flute was a welcome change. It had an interesting tone, and it sort of altered the feel of certain songs. Very cool.
A.J. Roach was a capable singer, and he had written some good songs, but his voice seemed heavily affected. He tended to change accents and singing styles from one song to the next, and he was sort of quick to throw in vibrato and other flourishes. His technique wasn't all bad and the guy was in tune, but in the sort of intimate singer-songwriter environment of Strange Brew, the affect seemed a little over-the-top and artificial.
The songs were evened out, though, by the bass, the flute, by Kennedy's backing vocals, and by Roach's capable work on guitar.
Between Kennedy and Roach, they had a few songs that I really liked ("Barrio Moon" comes to mind), but I just wasn't a huge fan of Roach's voice.
Overall, though, a pretty good show. Matt the Electrician is planning on hosting upcoming Strange Brew shows in future weeks with other performers, including Beaver Nelson, so I might have to go check some of them out.