CD Review of Beneath These Fireworks by Matt Nathanson

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Beneath These Fireworks
starstarstarstarno star Label: Umvd Labels
Released: 2003
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Countless tour dates in smoky bars and five independent releases later, you could say that singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson has lived more life in the past 10 years than most of us live in 30. All that gave him the life experience necessary to become a seasoned performer, one who prides himself on connecting with his audience. With the help of producer Ron Aiello (Lifehouse, Barenaked Ladies, Guster), Nathanson’s major-label debut, Beneath These Fireworks, captures the essence and energy of his live shows.

The opening track, “Angel,” is an acoustic piece that shows off Nathanson’s smoky tenor and brings to mind a less raspy Steve Forbert. Then, almost instantly, the record kicks into high gear with “Suspended,” a song that grooves in the verses and utilizes lots of guitars and strings in the chorus, ala Toad the Wet Sprocket which, from this writer’s point of view, is a beautiful thing. “Sad Songs” is an addictive song about a relationship gone bad -- I’m so tired of singing/All the sad songs in my head.” “I Saw” and “Little Victories” are introspective tracks about lost love and overcoming obstacles, respectively, and Nathanson blends mood and melody brilliantly.

“Bare” and “Pretty the World” are jangly tunes akin to the Barenaked Ladies, as Aiello’s influence becomes even more evident. “Curve of the Earth” is more modern rock bliss, straight out of the Goo Goo Dolls’ textbook. “Sing Me Sweet” is another outstanding track with radio potential. In fact, all of Nathanson’s songs have radio staying power written all over them, and that can’t be said about many artists these days.

Matt Nathanson’s music begs for you to listen and to feel the messages he’s trying to convey. Odds are we have all felt those feelings of human connection and disconnection before. More than anything, Nathanson shows on Beneath These Fireworks that we’re not alone. That, along with some great music, are what will keep him connected to his rapidly growing fan base.

~Mojo Flucke, PhD