Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Matt Ebert - Hard Work


I walked into the weekly wrap-up meeting with my chin lowered and a defeatist attitude. My boss, I was absolutely certain, was going to publicly browbeat me over my recent lack of production. Who could blame him? It had been three whole weeks since I had turned in my last writing assignment. Every one of my coworkers had been able to continuously churn out articles and stories with what appeared to be little or no effort while I floundered fruitlessly around my uninspired mind. Sure enough the questions began right after I sat down in my assigned roundtable seat.

“Penfold. How are you doing today?”
“I’m doing well boss.”
“That’s nice. Listen, I’d say that I was glad you could join us but I’m afraid that’s not entirely true. How long has it been since you turned in your last story?”
“Three weeks, sir.”
“That’s right Penfold. Three weeks. Do you have a story for me today?”
“I’m afraid not sir.”
“Penfold, Penfold, Penfold. What am I going to do with you? Throughout all of last year you were my most consistent producer of fantastical stories. What happened? Has your creative well run dry?”
“I’m sorry sir. For whatever reason, writing has become really hard work for me lately.”
“Don’t be sorry Penfold. Sorry doesn’t pay the bills. New stories pay the bills. Take the rest of the day off. Go home and write something.”
“Yes sir boss.”

Needless to say, I left the office feeling completely dejected. On the drive home I stopped by the post office to pick up my mail. Leafing through the stack of envelopes containing bills, credit card applications, and bank notices failed to lift my spirits. But wait! There was also a key to one of the post office’s storage lockers. These keys denoted the arrival of something too large to fit in the normal post office box. To my surprise I opened the locker and found a rather large package from one Matt Ebert. All of a sudden, my day turned completely around.

Although I made it a point to abide by the posted speed limit, I still rushed home. After parking my car I grabbed my mail and bolted through my front door. The envelopes were quickly discarded and I hastily tore open the large package. It contained a vinyl copy of Matt Ebert’s newest album, Hard Work. For a moment I simply held it in my hands and analyzed the cover art. My eyes beheld a hand drawn depiction of a banjo playing coyote or wolf being recorded by a stereotypical grey alien in the background. Wow! Without wasting another moment I plopped the record onto the turntable and dropped the needle. The music started up, I flipped the jacket over to read the song titles, and a bit of magic happened.

The imaginative music combined with the artwork on the jacket’s back cover combined to effectively jump start my brain. What kind of artwork could wield this much power over my mental faculties? I’ll tell you. It was an arresting image depicting the unlikely scenario of a human man partying and chumming it up with the Predator (yes that Predator!) over multiple cans of beer. One look at that portrait and the little men inside my head shouted, “Creativity is a go!” What had recently been a barren wasteland of ideas suddenly became a hotbed of quality storylines and largely believable dialogue trees. Thank goodness my computer was on at the time! Once the word processor program opened my fingers could not move fast enough. Bearing a confident and triumphant smile I came into work the next Monday with a massive surplus of material. I assure you that I took only a small amount of satisfaction from seeing the look on my boss’s face when I thumped my stack of new writings down upon his desk.

Waveriders I’m going to make a very strong statement to begin the actual review portion of this editorial. At the time of this writing (the second week of January) I can already guarantee that Matt Ebert’s new album Hard Work will face an uphill battle to find a way out of my top five albums of 2012. That’s right waveriders. This album is phenomenal and I’m not afraid to say it! Now, I realize that most of you fair readers are asking yourselves the same question. Who in the world is Matt Ebert? I’m glad you asked.

Matt Ebert is a talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist currently residing somewhere inside the great state of Georgia. Together with his primary musical counterpart Allan Ray he has been creating and releasing some of the most interesting albums to grace my music players since 2007. What makes Ebert’s compositions so incredibly entertaining is his unwillingness to limit himself musically. Funk? Check. Rock? Definitely. Country? Yes indeed. R&B? Oh yes. Punk and metal? Uh huh. Soul? Indubitably. Bluegrass? You’d better believe it. How would I describe Ebert’s overall sound? That’s rather difficult. Imagine throwing everything I just mentioned into a blender and hitting the puree button. The finished product incorporates each sound, with specific genres more dominant based on the needs of the specific song. Hard Work is Ebert’s third full length album and it brings to the forefront a new sonic wrinkle, jazz. Specifically fusion-like jazz, and the results are captivating!

What we have here waveriders is an album that takes the listener on a forty three minute voyage through the sublime which is impossible to predict. Based on how many genres this music covers that statement makes a lot of sense, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. “Ain’t Never” opens the proceedings in a very, very (not just very) funky manner complete with a bottomless groove and soulful female backing vocals. Now whereas a less confident artist might stick with what is currently working for them after a successful first track, Matt Ebert takes the road less traveled. Second song “Ted’s Rafting Adventures” is a straight up jazz fusion instrumental featuring some splendid banjo and synthesizer work (played by Matt Patrick and Brett Carson respectively). The remainder of the first two thirds of Hard Work essentially follows this roadmap. Songs jump from funktastic vocal numbers “Building It”, title track “Hard Work” and “Doodle Bugs”, to sonically varied instrumentals “Evil Ted” and “The 9 Gates”.

And then we come to the last third of the album and things really get interesting. While Ebert’s original compositions are extremely worthy of any music lover’s attentions, with each album he also offers up a few choice covers. Hard Work is no exception. The first cover under the spotlight is the outlaw country classic “Lonesome On’ry And Mean”. Ebert’s gruff voice matches up perfectly with this song’s confident swagger. After another original instrumental, “A Wilderness Of Horrors”, the listener is rewarded with a glorious rendition of Black Sabbath’s “Hand Of Doom”. Outside of an extended jam at the end of the song this is a straightforward cover, but it sounds great. Wrapping things up is something completely out of left field, Ebert and company’s version of the anime show Inuyasha’s “End Theme”. Unfortunately I have never seen an episode of this program so I have never heard the original version of this song. What I can report is that the cover is certainly bouncy and jubilant!

So there you have it waveriders. Matt Ebert’s Hard Work is the kind of album that doesn’t come around all that often. This album is special, plain and simple. It is filled with fantastic, memorable songs. The artist’s sound is unique and unmistakable. If you consider yourself an adventurous music fan you cannot afford to pass this one up. You know what? Even if you don’t think of yourself as adventurous, I bet you like good music. Well folks, Hard Work is what you’re looking for. Get it!

--Penfold


Buy Here- http://ebertmusic.com/

1 comment:

justin said...

I haven't checked out your other posts to see if this is regular fare or not, but that was a DAMN well written review. I'm very envious as I too got that oversized package in the mail and have set myself on the task of writing a review. Really an enjoyable read, Matt should be stoked. Thanx

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