‘Wrong Way Home’ is MATT KEATING'S tenth release, although people would be forgiven for thinking that this is a debut, as Matt flies very much under the radar.
He's a singer/songwriter from Boston, now currently based in New York, who flits adroitly between genres such as Americana, jazz, country and folk rock. There are several strong points on this sixteen track album, notably a fine degree of song writing meshed with descriptive lyrics, fine orchestration, and tracks that grow from a simple melody to something anthemic.
Opening with ‘Just About Now’, Matt is clearly within his element. This is a piano ballad, which builds as more instrumentation is introduced, and features some lovely sax playing. The lyrics deal with the complexity of relationships and contain a few gems: - “Don’t remember needing the words to any song/ When you’re in love the whole world sings along” However as Matt notes, there is always the downside: - “It’s just about now when the endings usually start/ It’s just about now when someone breaks somebody’s heart. Just about now.”
I thought that this was a great start to the album, and is a strong candidate for a single release. Elsewhere, tracks like ‘Punchline’ also manage to hit their target. This is also based around a piano melody, which builds with some steel guitar buried somewhere in the mix into a classic rock guitar solo! The lyrics again are a strong point, with some great imagery: -
“I just keep on reading the wrong page of your bible/ The one where he’s bleeding before the hero’s arrival.”
‘Nobody’s Talkin’ is another great track. This one ditches the piano for a country flavoured guitar song. Lyrically this dwells upon small towns and the people living out their lives “in a state of suspended animation”. This is a song that sums up the frustrations of being in a backwoods microcosm: - “So, to live around here there’s nothing left to know/ There’s nowhere left to go if you live around here.”
‘Baby’s Mind’ takes a completely different tone, and to my mind is one of the strongest tracks on the album. A smoky jazz number which features piano and sax well upfront, and upright bass holding the beat together, this is just perfect. The lyrics are sung simplistically to build a narrative that reads at times like two friends meeting in a bar to discuss all the problems in their relationships: - “It’s in your face but it’s hard to find. Hard to place when you’re not inclined/ Do you wanna face what’s still undefined? Trying to chase what’s on your baby’s mind.”
This album was a really pleasant surprise, from a songwriter who I must confess I hadn’t heard of before. I'm sticking my neck out, but I believe some of Matt Keating’s work here can stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best of Harry Nilsson's work.