Enjoyable, sunny and laid-back country-rock inspired by road trip.
The Matinee’s ‘Change Of Scene’ is a mostly laid-back and sunny country-rock album that brings visions of summer and beaches to mind as one listens to it, although this isn’t the whole story. If you think of The Eagles you won’t be far away from their sound and, indeed, they sing about Don Henley on the title track, which was inspired by a road trip that the band took:
“We were half way home when we pulled into Portland/ Snow was falling hard, covering our tracks/ We crossed that bridge listening to Henley”
Jaded by touring and frustrated at never seeing the places they played at, the four founder members of the band went out in a van on an unplanned road trip southwards to the Pacific Northwest region of the US. In doing this, they found that, in addition to helping them bond as great friends, the “untamed beauty of nature” refreshed them and unlocked their creativity, with this album being the result.
Although the record sounds slightly Californian, The Matinee are actually from rainier Vancouver with the founder members being Matt Layzell (vocals), Matthew Rose (guitar, vocals), Geoff Petrie (guitar, vocals), and Peter Lemon (vocals, drums). Two-time ‘Roots Artist of the Year’ winners at the British Columbia Country Music Association awards, this is their fourth album in 15 years. Also in the group are keyboardist Georges Couling and bassists Marcus Abramzik and Joseph Lubinsky, who took turns on various tracks.
The album gets off to a flying start with ‘Bad Addiction’ where the female backing vocals and the keyboards give a very strong soul flavour. The lyrics have a hippy, positive-thinking vibe: “All clouds have silver linings/ So keep your glass half full” This view of the world is echoed in the final track ‘Stay Gold’, a paean to easy livin’ and getting high: “You’re nothing but a spirit/ Nothing but a breeze/ Nothing feels as good as running free”. ‘Stay Gold’, though, is slightly startling musically, containing proggy keyboard, gospel and country at different times.
However, although tracks two and three have breezy melodies, their dark lyrics are a contrast to this. ‘Road To Hell’ is a tale of mother and daughter prostitution and the drinking of a military veteran and the catchy ‘Cut To Pieces’ is miles away from hippiedom, it seemingly taking the form of a revenge song. Beautiful steel guitar is added by Steve Dawson on ‘Year Of Nothing’ and on one of the highlights, ‘The Way It Goes’, amongst others. Elsewhere, ‘Shake It’ is a bluesy shuffle and ‘Train Rolls On’, with its apparently thumbs-up view on the touring life, has a gentle slow groove.
The strong melodies and generally positive vibes in the lyrics make ‘Change Of Scene’ an enjoyable listen. It has the feel of a record made by good friends enjoying each other’s company and enjoying life itself.