Written by: Dave Cantrell
Man, we gotta say, this business? Sometimes it just lands you flat on your ass. Actually, it would be more accurate to amend that ‘sometimes’ to ‘oftentimes,’ and not infrequently the source of that out-of-left-field sucker punch comes from a debut album that nobody, and we mean nobody, could have seen coming. Such is the case with the inaugural outing from storied session drummer, part-time actor (he played Jason Alexander’s agent in Curb Your Enthusiasm) and occasional stand-up comedian Matt North. While we’d just as soon direct your attention to our review of Above Ground Fools for full details, suffice to say that albums of this caliber, buoyed with such a naturally pitched confidence and bolstered by an in-the-know who’s-who of Nashville accompaniment, don’t often come along under the best of circumstances, never mind as a self-released solo debut that you won’t likely find on any ‘upcoming releases’ lists anywhere on the web. But that’s why you’re here at Stereo Embers, isn’t it? Somehow our trusted band of publicists and promoters and other cagey moles, time and again, steer us in the direction of the beguiling, the surprising, the memorable. And so it is the case this time. Soaked in Americana that’s itself soaked in the finer strains of the US’s most redeemable homegrown country-rock traditions circa 1972, Above Ground Fools distinguishes itself with a level of songwriting that alchemizes the back-porch solid with the purely rocking sublime. There’s glory, there’s humiliation, there’s story-telling galore. You’ll find the likes of Zevon and Graham Parker name-checked in the review linked above, and listening below, we think you’ll agree that we’re not far off. Welcome to 2017’s first under-the-radar top 10 contender.