Matt Nathanson – Some Mad Hope

Heralding from San Francisco, California, Matt Nathanson is one of those musicians you just can’t help but love, and respect. He’s been releasing good album after good album for years now; gaining a fan or two here, and a fan or two there, along the way. The fruit of his unscrupulous labors paid off about two albums ago, when he was picked up by Universal for the release of his major label debut Beneath These Fireworks. That disc was stellar in it’s own right, taking the route many songwriters do by combining a few of his better songs from past releases, and rerecording them, and peppering them in with some great new tunes. When it was released, I labeled Beneath These Fireworks Nathanson’s career defining album. At the time, I didn’t think he could get any better.

Luckily, I was wrong.

Flash forward a few years, with an insatiably delicious live album tossed in for good measure to fill the void, and we’ve found the present, and with it the release of Nathanson’s latest masterpiece: Some Mad Hope. Never has he made an album as complete as Hope. He touched at this type of cohesiveness with Fireworks, but looking back at it in comparison to this it’s easy to see that he still had a small ways to go. Some Mad Hope is like the great records of yore that just mesh and live together—so much so that it’d be easy to imagine that one song almost couldn’t exist at all without the others by it’s side; to give it context, and to give it depth.

The first single from the disc is the album opener “Car Crash,” and I couldn’t think of a better introduction to Nathanson’s signature full-band, singer-songwriter brand of tuneage. Things really pick up with the song-song “Come On Get Higher,” which employs an old gospel vibe in the chorus that will stick in your head for years to come. To continue on to my favorite diamond in the diamond bag, “Bulletproof Weeks” is one of the greatest songs Nathanson has ever written—period. Poignant closer “All We Are” ends the trip perfectly with the golden line, “Everyday is the start of something beautiful, beautiful.”

Indeed it is Matt, indeed it is.

(Vanguard Records)

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