If you aren't familiar, the Matt Burke Band is a two piece fronted by Matt Burke with Brue Baker on lead guitar. The group considers themselves "Soulcoustic Beach Rock" and I can't imagine a more spot on description. Both entertainers use an acoustic guitar as their main weapon for aural sensation; their music is accented by soulful vocals, makes you want to enjoy a cocktail on the beach and is one hundred percent rock. They shine as live performers playing a wide range of covers and originals with the focused goal of making everyone within earshot thoroughly enjoy themselves for the night.
With this album Matt and Brue have taken the original songs they have written together over the years, enlisted the help of a few other exceptional musicians and given their music the full band sound that it deserves. Though they do a terrific job with what they have as a two man band, they have been able to do things with this album that really accent their talents. Matt displays uncanny voice control and uses it as an instrument to give the songs more personality. Brue demonstrates an exceptional ear for adding just the right amount of finger work at just the right moment to tie the songs together. They have successfully captured the energy that comes through in their live performances in this very well produced studio album.
The album starts strong with the single The Weekend War which is available to hear now on their website. I think this was a perfect choice for an opening track as it really gives you a good idea of what is in store. The sound of bar patron chatter fades in for just a moment before the steel drums kick off the main verse melody. This song really makes you feel like you're at the show singing along with the band. Speaking of which, you will notice throughout the album that you are humming along to the songs before you are even familiar with the words. Every song is just insanely easy to digest while remaining interesting on subsequent observation. To say the melodies are catchy is an understatement.
Every song on the album has a slightly different style. The Weekend War has a fun island feel with steel drums while Moonshine Porcelain feels distinctly southern rock with a slide guitar and a bit of a dirty filter put on the vocals. Superstar has a Spanish feel with sexy flamenco nylon string guitar while Fading Faces is a strong driving funk tune. The lyrical content of the album ranges from strictly fun party songs to deeply personal blues jams. Cover to Cover is an interesting piece about the author's struggle to get his thoughts down on paper and ultimately results in a mash up of every popular hit that you already know and love. Superstar is a satirical inspection of what it must be like as a high profile celebrity. School is a recount of a one sided teenage love that never materialized. Also, prepare to hear perfectly executed falsetto and skat licks scattered about the album. It is exactly this diversity that sets the Matt Burke Band apart from your usual acoustic rock outfit.
The album is also very well constructed. In particular, the transition between One Step at a Time and Cover to Cover feels so seamless I can no longer imagine hearing one without the other. Although each song can hold it's own singularly, the album is best appreciated in sequence. This isn't an easy task to pull off and often bands don't even attempt it any more. Pretty Close to Very Good will take you on a journey from start to finish through the heart and soul of all that is the Matt Burke Band.
-Jason Thigpen, Music Blogger