CD Review: Kalle Mattson – Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold

Kalle Mattson will be playing a house show at The Special on March 5.

Fair warning: I’m going to do a lot of name-dropping here. Not in that braggy, sycophantic way, collecting names like playing cards and throwing them down when you think you have a win. Nah, it’s not going to be that impressive. No cool anecdotes about Shania Twain and tuna sandwiches. They might be obscure references or incriminatingly hipsterish, but do your best to stay with me.

No, I’m going to drop names because, when you sit down to listen to the album that I’ve been listening to for the last week, and you start to talk about it, you can’t really help it. It’s the kind of album that wears its influences proudly, that draws from the talent around it, that isn’t afraid of a shout-out.

Kalle Mattson – Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold

This is the third full-length album from the prolific, Ottawa-based folk rock songwriter Kalle Mattson, and from the beginning it’s clear that although the album bears Mattson’s name, it has a bigger sound than that. This isn’t just a guy and his guitar, but a full band cranking it to 11, a mere twelve seconds into the first song, “An American Dream.” A horn melody is blaring, somebody’s going to town on a set of cymbals, a gnarly, distorted guitar tries to push through. It’s a pretty definitive statement before it suddenly quiets, allowing room for Mattson’s voice to interject. And then it’s off again. Think Swedish singer-songwriter The Tallest Man on Earth (the stochastically named Kristian Matsson) as performing vocal duties for Wilco or Neutral Milk Hotel.

Though Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold is, by folk rock standards, a pretty raucous record, Mattson is quite deft at reigning in the scrappy energy of his sound when he needs to. The ‘90s alt rock-inspired “Hurt People Hurt People” (like a more coherent, less-screamy The Vines track) and the distorted propulsion of “God’s Only Son” (a perfect companion to most any The Weakerthans song) give way to the restraint of quieter tracks like “A Love Song to the City,” and album highlight “Darkness.” The latter song begins with a gorgeous fingerpicking pattern and Mattson’s reverbed vocals before growing into a somber military march.

Mattson is also prone to dropping literary references into his songs: a Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart reference in “The Moon is Gold,” the Shakespeare/Faulkner/Poe triad in the Cave Singers-esque “Sound & Fury (A Dream Within a Dream),” and a James Joyce nod in “The Living & The Dead.”

The only time that Mattson’s artful repurposing of material goes astray is in the song “Pick Me Up,” which bears a chorus identical to that of BC indie favourite Aidan Knight’s song “Jasper.” Whether Mattson was aware of this or not (the lyrics and vocal inflections are too similar to dismiss) it’s likely that listeners in their shared musical niche would be familiar with both artists and might feel a little conflicted.

Kalle Mattson will be playing a house show at The Special on March 5. I predict a joyous, loud, and pumped-up atmosphere. Do your best to check it out!

 

This review originally appeared in the February 21 issue of {vurb}, a weekly entertainment supplement distributed by the Nelson Star.

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