This disc opens with “Broken Heart Tattoo,” a song from his debut album, Blue Skies. As it begins, there is a strong force coiling up, ready to strike. Are there really only three musicians playing here? Interestingly, this intro sounds like it could also be the ending. But the song soon kicks in and develops a good groove. After a bit, it then mellows out. At that point, check out that cool work on bass, which struts about, and the guitar, which prowls, peeking into our windows. When the vocals come in, the lyrics are delivered as spoken word, which is perfect for the story this song tells. “I tell you, something bad happened that night.” I love the way he stresses the word “bad,” drawing it out for emphasis. Then he gets the audience laughing with the line, “And all of you out there with dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty minds, well, she wasn’t doing exactly what you are thinking.” And everything described here is what the narrator witnessed from his spot on the stage while playing a gig. A cool way to open this live album.
“Slideride” is a tune from Matty T. Wall’s 2018 album, Sidewinder, and is one that takes us on a ride. At the beginning, it is like we are in this crazy vehicle with the band as they begin to rev the engine. It feels like a rocket about to burst from the ground. And once we start flying, we own the entire road. Any competition disappears, and it is just us and the road. This totally delicious instrumental number moves along with speed and joy, and everything feels right with the world. The guitar is in control, powering not just the vehicle, but seeming to ignite the very air, and we find ourselves capable of breathing fire, and even this doesn’t surprise us. Just roll with it, right? And that sense leads us perfectly to the next tune, “Burnin’ Up Burnin’ Down,” where the musicians are casting off sparks with each note. Be mindful that this album comes with a gas can, but even the danger is enjoyable. And is there a sort of love song contained somewhere in there? “Every time you kiss my lips/Can’t hold myself back.” While there is a whole lot of great stuff on guitar, I also love that work on drums.
“Walk Out The Door” is a song dripping with attitude, a song that is taking no shit, a break-up song that offers no ambiguity, no room for question. “You’d better wa-wa-wa-wa-walk out the door, babe/‘Cause I don’t want you back no more.” Yup. “I’m tired of being played like a fool, tired of being your punching bag/There’s only so much that I can take, and I ain’t one to raise the white flag/You treated me like your doormat, you treated me like your slave/Now I’m changing my direction ‘cause you ain’t gonna change your ways.” Then “Scorcher” sounds just like its title promises, rushing in, grabbing us, and before we understand just what is happening, it is racing along with us in its claws, the wind blowing our thoughts into the past. Beneath that phenomenal work on guitar is some fantastic stuff on bass. You’ll want to surrender to this rhythm, which is fine, because you have little choice in the matter anyway. This is a terrific instrumental track.
Matty T. Wall mellows things out at the beginning of “This Is Real,” giving folks a chance to catch their breath. “I know that this ain’t fiction/I know this ain’t a dream/I ain’t going to be the fool no more/This is real.” But what I really love about this track is the instrumental section in the second half, especially that work on guitar. That’s followed by the album’s only cover, Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” These musicians dig into this song, stretching out on it, with Matty T. Wall in particular getting a chance to cut loose and demonstrate his ability on guitar. They turn in a version that is fourteen minutes long. The jam turns kind of funky in the track’s second half, with some great work on bass. And then ten minutes in, we get a good drum solo. That’s followed by “Sophia’s Strut,” a short instrumental track, and then “Smile,” a surprisingly gentle and pretty number to close out the album. This is also an instrumental tune, this piece originally included on Matty T. Wall’s debut studio release.
CD Track List
- Broken Heart Tattoo
- Burnin’ Up Burnin’ Down
- Walk Out The Door
- This Is Real
- Voodoo Chile
- Sophia’s Strut
Live Down Underground was released on June 10, 2022.