The Motives featuring Matt Taylor
Bluesy Eclectic Recordings
We at Fair Hearing like Matt Taylor a lot – he plays cleanly, sings strongly, writes varied material and he seems to get to work with truly sparky and accomplished players. Hence a new band led by Taylor is of interest to us and should be to you. Not content to play safe and perform comfortable standards, Matt is out to compose his own material and moreover to ring the changes and not stay in one groove. This music has its obvious roots origins – blues, R&B, soul, rock’n’roll, mod – but doesn’t get dusty, not in these hands. Yes it’s best heard in a live setting but like Vintage Trouble and their efforts it does seem that it’s possible to bottle some of that driving excitement in the studio…
There’s a tinge of Weller cohort and keysman Mick Talbot in Jonny Dyke’s approach, particularly on the Hammond and other organ work on these tracks. He sure swings and whilst he’s likely far too young to be a Brian Auger disciple, it’s that kind of warm but supercharged playing that is to be found in his contributions here.
Drummer Roy Martin has toured extensively with quirky songstress Patricia Kaas and the blues expert Snowy White ( a player highly rated by Peter Green when he and I talked about British axemen as we played around with some acoustics that Peter had found in San Francisco) and has what is best described as an Anglo-Staxon sound, funky but a tad jazzy here and there. Andy Graham is a surefooted bassist, pretty much of the Bill Wyman ‘modest but there’ school. He’s worked with Lee Sankey, Imogen Heap, Sugar Blue and more.
With a crew of this calibre it’s down to the songs now, ain’t it ? Opener ‘Never Tell A Lie’ has bounce to spare and a touch of reggae tempo over the verses. If Robert Cray was a Londoner, he might sound a little like this. Liberal swooshes of Hammond make this a heady mix as the guitar bites through, hitting a fluid legato solo about two minutes in. It’s almost Vanilla Fudge without the lead boots and histrionic vocals. Dark bass treads over the closing bars and the guitar wahs away over steady drumming, the kind of unselfish dynamics you would expect this class of muso to have in spades.
‘Cookie Jar’ for some reason makes me think of US garage band Classics IV, an accusatory tale with the lightest tremolo effect on the guitar. Another spidery guitar break rolls out. Back to an older style on the dual tempo ‘Leap of Faith’ – handled so deftly you conclude it’s not only legendary King Biscuit Boy that can handle pacing switches with great aplomb. Clever but not cold and very listenable.
‘Find Another Love’ is one of two co-writes with cricketer turned guitar man Mark Butcher. Make up your own ‘rich seam of talent’ jokes……
A jungle-beat is employed on ‘The Rules Don’t Apply’ and Ian Siegel cameo’s as a Hades resident, it’s a fun 50’s rocker. A lighter touch on the countrified ‘Looking For The Way Home’ with pure Bill Payne-style piano frills, Taylor backs his voice off for a talespinning vibe.
The dark and moody ‘Gone Before’ is a chilly ballad and probably my favourite here (like Taylor didn’t know it would be, when he sent it over !) and but for the vocal it could be an early Chris Youlden (Savoy Brown) song. Yep, it’s that good and no-one overplays as the stabbing beat drives the tune and an excellent organ solo mines the mood. In the right room, this must be a killer song to perform….
The other standout is the choppy wah’d ‘Nature’s Cruel Design’ and here Taylor sings his best. Classy drumming all the way on this cut, especially on the ascending bridge with the Zappa-esque dirty guitar wails away. Sprightly basswork on closer ‘Baby Don’t Lose My Number’ reminds the listener of Graham’s vital role here.
A cool set of songs, well-performed and some obvious future crowd pleasers amongst the selections
Pete Sargeant www.fairhearing.co.uk