Tuesday 4 March 2014

Kalle Mattson - Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold

Album review by soul1@thesoundofconfusion.com

Having a lot of material recorded at a very young age isn't a rarity, but having it recorded with such flair and mature songwriting certainly is. To be honest, I was a bit stunned to read that this is Kalle Mattson's third album and that he's still only 22. Especially as I was listening to opening track 'An American Dream' at the time. This is one of the songs of the year so far; fuelled by uplifting chords and embellished with brass and Kalle's fine voice, you'd expect something of such stature to be a highlight on an album by someone like The National or Wilco (a big influence apparently). 'Someday, The Moon Will be Gold' sees Mattson return to his childhood home of Sault St. Marie, Ontario, and this album deals with the death of his mother, but it's pointed out (correctly) that this is a record that's as much about hope as it is about death, so euphoric touches like that opening song are not a rarity.

A few of the song titles might hint that it's not all joyous anthems. 'Darkness' brings that voice to the fore and is really a picked acoustic track, but it has much power. Lines like "it's a bleeding heart and it's going to grow" show us that there may be pain, but growth will return. By now more instrumentation has entered the fray and you can see just how wonderfully arranged this album is. It's maybe 'The Living & The Dead' that deals with the loss in the most forthright manner, as Mattson ponders life and the way that so many of us float through it without ever seeking meaning or purpose. Lyrically it seems to personally address his mother at some points as he talks of "listening for the living and for the dead", perhaps hoping that she can hear his words. There's a marked difference in the vibe of the first half of the song, with a more solemn feel, but at the mid-point the whole thing heads skyward on wings of guitar and uplifting brass once again. You can sense the hope that was promised to us. Maybe you could see it as a celebration of life, as much as the loss of one.

By now it's obvious that the first track was no fluke, and 'Sound & Fury (A Dream Within A Dream)' takes this upbeat and wonderfully arranged sound and runs with it, all the while showing a knowledge that belies his years. You can pick out alt-country, indie-rock and chamber-pop amongst the various tracks that follow. The crunching guitars of 'Hurt People Hurt People' are classic alt-rock; 'Eyes Speak' is more tender and personal again, where "it's death in the day and love in the night" and he's "staring at your picture frame... just wanna hear your voice...". It talks of the changes that have taken place in the five years that have passed, but it doesn't wallow in self-pity, it speaks of being brave through the pain, ending with a grand and uplifting finale. You get the sense that some of these songs were very painful experiences, and perhaps the use of almost choral backing, not to mention that recurring brass, were ways of offsetting the hurt. 'The Moon Is Gold' tackles the same subject but does so with buzzing guitars and a certain majesty that mark it out as a centrepiece of sorts.

Even on first listen, by this point you're well and truly hooked, whether you're an existing fan or (in my case) a newcomer. This guy is good, very good, and the album hasn't served up a bad moment yet. So 'God's Only Son' isn't likely to be one, and of course it isn't. Just check out the way it almost becomes a different song for the guitar-heavy ending. You don't just knock out tunes like this in a couple of minutes. Having repeatedly mentioned that the arrangements lead to a rare grandeur, it should be pointed out what a great lyricist Kalle Mattson is, and 'A Love Song To The City' might be a tune to affirm that. Country and folk are used on the Laurel Canyon referencing 'Pick Me Up', where he fully embraces that culture and sound of the neighbouring USA and its musical heritage, much of which will have been an inspiration to the sound of the record as a whole. Being such a powerful album, it's no surprise that penultimate track 'In The Morning Light' feels as though it's preparing us for an ending; as though the whole episode is reaching closure. That closure we get in 'Amelie'. It's hinted on his website that this is his mother's name, and it's written from the point of view of a previous boyfriend who's just found out about her passing. It's the one song where voice and guitar are left alone to get their message across, and it works brilliantly. A wonderful album and a truly rare talent.

Kalle Mattson's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album

Catch him live:

Mar 05 House Show, Nelson, Canada  
Mar 06 Habitat, Kelowna, Canada  
Mar 07 Cafe Deux Soleils, Vancouver, Canada  
Mar 08 Canoe Brewpub, Victoria, Canada  
Mar 09 Char's Landing, Port Alberni, Canada  
Mar 11 The Occidental, Quesnel, Canada  
Mar 12 Minstrel Cafe, Kelowna, Canada  
Mar 13 Twin Butte General Store, Twin Butte, Canada  
Mar 14 The Brickhouse, Fernie, Canada  
Mar 15 The Owl, Lethbridge, Canada  
Mar 16 Rose & Crown, Banff, Canada  
Mar 18 Artful Dodger, Regina, Canada  
Mar 19 Park Theatre, Winnipeg, Canada  
Mar 20 Bijou Steakhouse, Kenora, Canada  
Mar 22 Cafe Natura, Sault Ste Marie, Canada  
Mar 28 Clark Hall Pub, Kingston, Canada  
Apr 01 THE HORSESHOE, Toronto, Canada  
Apr 16 Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Apr 17 Arttheater, Neuehrenfeld, Germany
Apr 19 La Parenthese, Nyon, Switzerland
Apr 22 Kafi für Dich, Zurich, Switzerland
Apr 23 Bad Bonn, Dudingen, Switzerland
Apr 24 Folk im Park Festival Warm-Up Show, Nurnberg, Germany
Apr 25 bedroomdisco, Darmstadt, Germany
Apr 27 Privatclub, Berlin, Germany
Apr 28 Knust, Hamburg, Germany
Apr 29 Steinbruch, Duisburg, Germany
Apr 30 Sissilkingkong, Dortmund, Germany
May 02 Manufaktur, Schorndorf, Germany
May 03 Sparte 4, Saarbrucken, Germany
May 23 Blacksheep Inn, La Pêche, Canada  
Jul 25nBurning Eagle Festival, Reutlingen, Germany

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