Dennis Matechuk (vocals), Jim Wesley (drums and percussion), Don Lennox (bass and vocals), Kevin Star (guitar and vocals), and Darryl Herbert (keyboards, guitar, accordion and vocals) are the five members of Matlen Starsley Band, a new musical project from Vancouver, Canada. Between them, the band features former and current members of the Bryan Adams Band, The Ray Roper Project, Stonebolt,Touchdown, Straight Shooter and Fandango. Now, they’ve come together to form a band that explores their own music which is a beguiling mixture of rootsy country, blues and Southern rock with a host of other influences thrown in.
Rollin’ Again is the band’s first album and is the perfect title for this group of musicians who are taking a chance with their own roll of the dice. By the time you listen to the title track (seventh of the ten tracks) you realise that you’re listening to musicians with a wealth of experience and are really enjoying the chance to play whatever music they want; it’s the sound of musicians having fun and letting the music take over. In addition, it’s a refreshing reminder that artists with more life experience (dare I say older?) have so much more to bring to the art of writing lyrics. Oh, and I bet they sound amazing live.
My favourite track is ‘I Cried Today‘, a cracking song that looks at what happens when you encounter an old flame. No matter how your life has gone since parting, there’s always a passing moment of ‘what if’ in these situations and this song captures that fleetingly intense feeling with lines such as “the years that lie between what we had and what we coulda been”. The tune has a freewheeling sound, enhanced by the glorious Hammond organ, that dances through the emotions of first love encapsulated in thoughtful lyrics. The two match so well you can’t imagine any other words fitting.
‘Matter of Time‘ is another rollickingly good song, a country centric frolic through learning to love again with a hefty dose of honky tonk blues thrown in. This has such a catchy hook that you’ll be singing along by the second chorus and up and dancing way before that. It’s fabulous.
Leading on from this upbeat future classic we go straight into a powerful power ballad, “We Don’t Love Anymore“. A devastating description of relationship breakdown, the slow rock rhythms and superb guitar solos wring every ounce of emotion from the lyrics. Dennis Matechuk’s vocals sound as if he lived every minute of the song and are all the better for it.
The final two tracks, ‘Sweet Touch‘ and ‘Your Love Ain’t Special‘ end this album in style. ‘Sweet Touch’ is a fast and furious race to “your sweet touch” while ‘Your Love Ain’t Special’ takes us through yet another relationship breakup, but this time there’s no heartbreak involved. Both have extensive instrumentals which complement the vocals to leave the listener wanting more. You’ll get to the end of this album and go right back to track one and start again – it’s that good.
As to be expected from a band with such a wealth of experience in the industry, Matlen Starsley’s advice if both creative and practical:
“Music is not a competition, but it is a business. Be creative, build a network and community of supporters, give support and advice and have the courage to ask for it. Most of all practice your craft, whether as a player, singer, writer. Music is subjective and can’t be quantified. The business side can, but don’t confuse the two. You need to be good at the business of music as well. Evaluate the numbers as a business person, judge your music as an artist.”
Rollin’ Again was released on July 12. Get your copy here.
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