Back with another batch of 12 mature, well written all original songs, Matt's newest CD 'Hard Luck'( Raw Tone Records ) was just released in April 2007 and is already beginning to generate a buzz in the Blues world. As of November 2007 the album is the second most requested on Bluesville 74 on XM radio. This is the follow up to Matt's freshman album 'Goin' Back South' released in 2004 and it makes it's predecessor pale in comparison.
Matt's sophomore release is produced by Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin ( former Muddy Waters' guitarist from 1973-1980 ) who also appears on a few of these 12 original cuts. The songs are rooted in the pure sounds of raw South-side Chicago Blues, mandolin driven Delta Blues, danceable Piedmont Blues, Jump, Rockabilly, West-side Soul and Roots Rock. Through that approach the album is allowed to have an interesting diversity that somehow still manages to show the determination to not stray away from its common musical thread...the Blues.
The album also features several other very talented special guests including Max Drake on guitar and mandolin ( Big Bill Morganfield, Skeeter Brandon, Mel Melton ), Chuck Cotton on drums ( Bob Margolin, Jimmy Rogers ) and Matt Hill on guitar and lap dobro, who along with Matt Walsh, was recently interviewed in the Aug/Sept 06 issue of Blues Revue Magazine.
"Matt Walsh...Soulful playing, great vocals...It's great to hear young musicians playing in the tradition. That's the only way the Blues will stay alive"
- Paul Oscher ( former Muddy Waters band member, Blues harmonica legend and 2006 BMA award winner "Acoustic Artist of the Year" for 'Down in the Delta' )
HARD LUCK CD REVIEWS :
By Bill Mitchell
Vol 12 Number 7
The first piece of information that attracted me to Hard Luck, an independent release from young North Carolina via Kansas guitarist/singer, Matt Walsh, was a testimonial from former Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin. Bob knows what he's talking about when it comes to the blues and he's always been very supportive of younger musicians, especially if they play the old school blues.
With his perfectly coifed hairstyle and long sideburns, Walsh looks more like a rockabilly cat than a bluesman. In fact, the novelty vocal group Sha Na Na was one of Walsh's very, very early influences, and he's got the hairstyle to match. But the groove he puts out on Hard Luck is, without a doubt, deep Chicago blues. What's most impressive is that each of the dozen songs on the CD were written by Walsh. If this guy rode a time machine back to the early 1950s, he could probably line up a gig as a house songwriter at Chess Records.
Walsh is not the greatest singer around but he's certainly competent, and his guitar playing shows great potential. He's got a very good feel for the material that he's doing. It's raw, primitive blues recorded appropriately to give it a raw, primitive sound. The music is infectious, especially the more you listen to it.
I hesitate to compare the sound on Hard Luck to the work of Margolin since Walsh has his own thing going on here, but it's a fair comparison for the purpose of setting an expectation level. In fact, Margolin appears as guest guitarist on two of the cuts, the uptempo shuffle "Leaving My Baby" and the title cut, "Hard Luck." He also helped with most of the CD's final mix.
Highlights on Hard Luck include the sparse "Breakin' Up Over You," with Walsh's acoustic guitar accompanied by Rene Aaron's fine harmonica playing. In addition, Walsh shows that he's got a slide and knows how to use it on the exciting "20 More Miles."
Walsh shows his versatility on two of the later cuts, doing more of a late night, T-Bone Walker style blues, "Sit and Wonder," with exquisite guitar playing. Very nice! The closing cut, "Woody's Rag," is a foot-tapping ragtime number, featuring guitar, upright bass and harmonica.
There's much more to like about this disc; there's not a weak but among the dozen songs on Hard Luck. For more info on Walsh, check out his site at www.mattwalshblues.com or order the CD from CD Baby.
"Hi Matt: Got your CD thru Todd Glazer. I’ve got to tell you, it’s easily the best CD I’ve heard this year , and as a Blues DJ I hear nearly everything. I’m ready for your next one already. And please don’t change what you’re doing. Bringin’ you the blues,"
- Putnay Host, “The Bluesshow” KUNM-FM 89.9 ( Albuquerque, New Mexico ) June 2007
Nonzine magazine ( Oklahoma City, OK )
Reviewer: Bruce Buckner
"Matt was not born of Mississippi mud nor has he made any deals with the devil, but upon hearing him, you would swear that one or both had to be true. Just turning 30 years old, this man with the pompadour from hell, has already shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Bob Margolin, Delbert McClinton, Taj Mahal, and many other incredible, experienced blues men. When you listen to him, you find yourself wondering just which old vault of Delta or Chicago blues did he find his songs in. You just KNOW you've heard that song SOMEWHERE, but it just won't come to you. But you are wrong. Matt’s deep understanding of the blues allows him to create authentic, but original songs that ring true to the soul. It is just astounding.
Some performers sound better live and some sound better in the studio. Matt and the Maddogs are better live but the saving grace is that once you witness them live, listening to the recordings is suddenly better. When listening to his CDs the visual memory comes flooding back and it is as though you were in the room again.
His new CD, Hard luck, was produced by Bob Margolin (of Muddy Waters fame) without enhancements or tricks. The twelve tracks include some side trips into Rockabilly and Jump, but it all comes out of the same perspective, i.e., deep understanding of the roots of the blues."
Nice Debut With Flavor
Reviewer: Kyle M. Palarino
This young up-and-comer has a solid start to what will be a long career. Matt Walsh has taken time with some of the older guys to learn his craft. On his first disc he has a good grip on the music. His vocals reminded me right off the bat of the producer of this album, Bob Margolin. This is before I knew who produced the album. Margolin guests on guitar on two of the songs as well.
But back to Walsh: his style is more than just a Blues guitarist. His tones hit the old Rock 'n' Roll and Rockabilly sounds, also. These recordings do sound like some of Margolin's Alligator recordings. That is not a small task to pull off for any artist, let alone one that is just cracking the thirty-year old mark.
You can point similarities to Monster Mike Welch if you want, but Walsh is his own artist. He can swing at times, but not too hard. He has a subtlety in his music, a restraint. Walsh brings out the acoustic on few songs. He even goes after the rag on "Woody's Rag." The song swoops around with a thumping bass and soaring harmonica.
I'd like to bring up his resemblance also to the Fabulous Thunderbirds' early recordings. The tone of his guitar is aimed at the Texas sound, but each song has its own flavor. He never rocks too much, just enough to get you on the dance floor.
"Sit and Wonder" is a slow, quiet, acoustic number that takes its time through the seven-plus-minute wandering. The elegant touches on the strings are added to by a pulsing upright bass. You never know what corner this guy will turn with his guitar.
Every song on the album was penned by Walsh. You really can't take a musical journey like this disc takes you on without playing your own music. Walsh has a lot of original ideas and works some out on this disc, but you know there are many more ideas still in his head. Give him time and he should be putting out shining gems in the future.
Hard Luck is an excellent start to his recording career. This is a foundation that can launch him onto one of the Blues labels out there. He hits so many bases on this album that he will find a comfortable niche and blast off from there. He is not an artist who will be happy playing just one style. He is very versatile and that seems to keep him satisfied.
To hear an artist that will keep you guessing what is coming next and please you each time, take a listen to Matt Walsh.
Reviewer: Thomas J. Cullen III
Thirty-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist Matt Walsh's
blond pompadour suggests an affinity for rockabilly, and
several songs on this, his second album, do have a retro
feel. But what Walsh does best on most of this disc's dozen originals is to conjure up the spirit of early- to mid-period Muddy Waters.
It doesn't hurt to have Waters' former guitarist, Bob Margolin, in the production booth: Margolin contributes guitar work to the brooding, ecumenical title track and the romping opener, "Leaving My Baby", which combines the bayou rockabilly of Dale Hawkins with the swamp stomp of Lightnin' Slim. Walsh handles electric and acoustic guitars with support from a febrile rythm section of upright bass and thumping drums, as well as a second guitar on six tracks.
Walsh's fierce, slashing slide on "Why My Baby Ain't Around" is reminiscent of classic Waters tunes "She Moves Me" and "Screamin' and Cryin", and his declamatory vocals, though far dryer and not as dark as Muddy's, posses the master's knowing, virile aloofness.
Besides "Leaving My Baby," three other tunes break the Muddy mold: the Jimmy Reed-like "Pointless Blues," a vocal duet with drummer Chuck Cotton featuring Matt Hill's lap Dobro and Max Drake's mandolin: "Sit and Wonder" a gentle breeze of a slow blues in the style of T-Bone Walker; and the set-closing anomaly "Woody's Rag", a two-minute instrumental that sounds like an after-thought in comparison to the tough stuff that proceeded it.
Despite the derivative nature of most of his originals, Walsh's swagger and passion reveal deep love and respect for the traditions he honors. Fans of classic Chicago blues ans well as rockabilly lovers will find much to enjoy on the uncompromising Hard Luck.
Reviewer: Michael Mee
It's impossible to avoid being swept up by the energy of the rockabilly/Blues on "Hard Luck", eventually toe-tapping and finger drumming become a reflex action. The first thing to note is the production quality, or lack of it. The sound on "Hard Luck" is a bit of a lottery. Eventually, not only do you get used to it but you'd not have it any other way. The Blues isn't pristine and well dressed and Matt Walsh has presented his dozen songs in their most natural state. Anyway with a voice like his, what need has Walsh of studio trickery, this is a force of nature best left alone. In Walsh's hands the tracks on "Hard Luck" are raw, visceral and almost brutal. He's obviously realised that he's never going to be a crooner and he's played to his strengths, attacking the Blues with a will.
"Hard Luck” is rough-edged and magnificent. For a modern era, when a cover of classic is sometimes seen as a mandatory validation, it is a pleasant surprise to be presented with an album entirely of originals. While Matt Walsh is never going to make his fortune as a writer, the songs on the album are well constructed and written with that unique voice in mind. What "Hard Luck" does, above all, is present the Blues as they should be - tough, uncompromising and honest.
Blues In Britain
September 2007 (Volume 1 Issue 69)
Reviewer: Gordon Baxter
Matt Walsh started recording "Hard Luck", his second album, back in 2005. The Carolina-based guitarist took his time, carefully gathering musicians that would fit with his style, including his friend and near-neighbour, Bob Margolin.
Walsh's style is founded on the classic thumping Chicago blues sound that is best epitomised by Magic Slim, and elements of early rock'n'roll/rockabilly. The former is most evident on the opener, "Leaving My Baby" which certainly grabs the listener's attention, before the band move into classic Muddy Waters' territory with "Why My Baby Ain't Around"--all of the songs are Walsh originals. Vocally Walsh sounds a bit like a hybrid of David Johansen and Tom Waits, which fits with the way that he plays the blues. Even when things move into acoustic mode (such as the fine "Sit and Wonder"), the arrangements still feel just about right.
"Hard Luck" is mostly raucous, rowdy, good fun. Matt Walsh is a talented singer and guitarist who knows how to write a good tune, and how to get the best out of it. Fans of Magic Slim will certainly find much to admire here.
Mary 4 Music
Reviewer: Peter "BLEWZZMAN" Lauro
The minute I laid my eyes on MATT WALSH'S CD, "HARD LUCK", I started thinking about the Blues Music Awards. Now notice I said my eyes, not my ears - as of yet, I haven't heard a note of the music. However, my decision was already made that if there were ever a category for the "BLUES' BEST 'DO", this young man is not only getting my nomination, but he's a lock to win - pun intended. And by the way, that's envy speaking, not sarcasm.
On "HARD LUCK", MATT'S debut release, he also makes several other impressive first impressions. A visit to his website will tell you that MATT WALSH is known for his "Fifties style of Chicago Blues, with detours into Rockabilly, Swing and Roots Rock". What it doesn't tell you is how well he does it and that he does it with the feeling and confidence of a seasoned veteran.
Speaking of seasoned veterans, you should recognize a few of them giving him a hand here. Joining MATT WALSH - writer of all tracks - on electric, acoustic, slide and national steel guitars and vocals are: BOB MARGOLIN on guitar; JESSIE MAJOR, F J VENTRE & "WASABI" BOBBY KELLY on upright bass; KYLE COUCH on drums; MAX DRAKE on guitar and mandolin; MATT HILL on guitar and lap dobro; CHUCK COTTON on drums and vocals; RENE AARON on harmonica.
A fast paced rocker titled"LEAVING MY BABY" opens the disc with it's Producer, guest guitarist, and obvious strong MATT WALSH influencer, BOB MARGOLIN, leading the band on guitar. MATT'S vocals immediately make an impression on this one, and the rhythm of CHUCK and F J highlight the track.
Other than listening to the 3 or 4 slide guitar players who I consider to be the cream of the crop, I generally prefer to not even here it played. Hearing MATT on "WHY MY BABY AIN'T AROUND" just increased my favorite slide players to a complete handful. MATT shines on this Margolinesque track.
"BREAKING UP OVER YOU" is good old, down home, Piedmont style roots blues at it's best. This one features MATT perfectly pickin' an acoustic guitar and RENE masterfully blowing into a harp. Equally as interesting is "POINTLESS BLUES", a very laid back number featuring a vocal duet between MATT & Chuck. The track is highlighted by MAX DRAKE & MATT HILL on mandolin and lap dobro. Good stuff on these two.
Fans of good old straight up Chicago Blues will enjoy "HARD LUCK" & "20 MORE MILES". Both tracks feature great guitar licks - the first by BOB and the second by MATT. Both tracks are also highlighted by MATT belting out some good blues vocals.
Other tracks on "HARD LUCK" include: "ONE LOOK", "HARD TO FIND", "GOIN' OUT", "SIT AND WONDER" and "WOODY'S RAG". As I opened this review, I made a humorous reference to the Blues Music Awards. However, I'm certainly not joking when I say that if "HARD LUCK" should catch a bit of "good luck" and fall into enough right hands, MATT WALSH may just get himself a "Best New Artist Debut" nod. Check MATT out at www.mattwalshblues.com. While you're there, tell him Pete the Blewzzman is crazy about his disc.........and his 'do.
Blues radio host
Hi Matt - Today I got back from a week long vacations and your parcel was already waiting for me, thank you very much!
It was worth to wait for your album to come, it's a killer! First thing I've noticed after pressing play button in my stereo is the sound - vintage, old school Chicago blues sound that you don't hear too often today. It's obvious that you have spent lot's of time listening to the classic blues stuff. Your guitar tone is fat and dirty, just the way I like it. It reminds me of guys like Jody Williams - those players who knew it all, not only flashy solos but also deep rhythm patterns. Together with emotional vocals and your ability to write interesting songs that makes a total package. With some great musicians behind your back you've recorded one of the coolest classic blues albums I've heard this year! With such an album you have lot's of good luck coming your way!
It will be my pleasure to feature your music in my shows. I'm sure my listeners will enjoy it as much as I do! I'll keep you posted with my playlists and Living Blues reports.
Thank you again Matt for the music you've sent me. Let us keep in touch.
Przemek Draheim Polish radio host