Matheson have been around Ballarat and a regular mainstay on its few but frequented stages for some years now; this album is tribute to a band hitting their straps both as songwriters and as a road-hardened band.
Style-wise, if the Kings of Leon could steal that big, mid-tempo rock-vocal sound from Noiseworks then it should be fair cop for Matheson to steal it back – they come close to getting away with it upon the opening tune Let the Satellites Fall.
Along with the power ballad Forever Girl these are some of the most rock radio-friendly tunes this band have come up with so far; what has evolved from a country and folk base now rocks out a bit louder and stronger.
Yet the folk and country roots of Matheson remain: 1859 goes back to history for inspiration in a tale of a sailor headed back to Australia, while Caroline Blues digs deeper into a Dylanesque folk groove with added (uncredited) harmonica.
Safe For Now gets across deeply felt and complex feelings about military involvement in overseas conflicts without getting bogged down in platitude or too-simple rhetoric, while She Was From the Country sounds like a road anthem with a crooked twist for university students from the country, destined to be played to crowds of students at uni campuses across regional Australia.
Frontman and guitarist Aaron Mathews is ably backed with harmonies from bassist Mark Perry and drummer Steven Martin, with some additional work by guitarist Dan Houlihan (Epicure), pianist Yuko Nusiyama and the album’s producer Cam McKenzie.
A big sounding debut with the promise of more to come from a very promising band.
– Jarrod Watt