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Matt Nathanson - Some Mad Hope Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 7.75
Lyrics 7.25
Production 9.5
Creativity 5.5
Lasting Value 7.5
Reviewer Tilt 8
Final Verdict: 78%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.38
Musicianship 9.44
Lyrics 9.19
Production 9.25
Creativity 8.88
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Average: 91%

Matt Nathanson - Some Mad Hope

Reviewed by: Steve Henderson (09/30/07)
Matt NathansonSome Mad Hope
Release Date: August 14, 2007
Record Label: Vanguard Records

There are a lot of people out there that would try and tell you that the original Napster was nothing but a haven for e-criminals and pirates – that it served no good. While there is surely a bit of underlying truth to those sentiments, I still derive a sort of smug satisfaction from telling people they are full of shit in their absolute demonization of the ol’ Nap. Why can I say this, you ask? Well, because if it weren’t for that crazy headphoned cat (or whatever the mascot is), I would have never discovered Matt Nathanson and his rather enjoyable brand of soft rock.

My first exposure to Nathanson was to his track, “Little Victories.” The stripped down, ultra-folky acoustic version (not the squaky-clean remake that appeared on Beneath These Fireworks). It was a great introduction to this troubadour, and the type of music he was peddling, for sure. From this point, then, it was interesting to note the transformation that Nathanson undertook. It seemed that after people telling him for years how great of a songwriter he is, Matt finally started to believe it himself. This newfound confidence took him into major label turf, onto the American Pie 3 soundtrack, and onto the radar screens of a lot of listeners. So how is he hanging in there after his apparent peaking a few years back? Does Nathanson still have it? On Some Mad Hope, the answer is certainly “yes.”

While a lot of singer/songwriters fall into the trap of monotony on their offerings, Nathanson really goes out of his way to avoid this pitfall. His songs switch it up in tempo, instrumental focus, and a few other factors, but at the same time still manage to be rather cohesive. This can be seen in the way that Some Mad Hope begins, commencing with the first single hookiness of “Car Crash” – a solid song, and as far as the album’s anthemics go, but still not a proper showcase of Nathanson’s strengths. Those are more skillfully revealed on the soft, come-hither sexy longing of “Come On Get Higher,” which will resonate immediately with fans of Howie Day’s “Collide” or the like. As Nathanson’s just-the-right-amount-of-rasp vocals soar above mellow acoustic guitars with a profound sense of urgency and emotion (especially in the dazzling chorus), one can’t help but think this is how such music really ought to be. The same goes for the soft/loud dynamic shifts that carry the belting “Gone” or the minimalist, heartfelt soul of “Still.”

Unfortunately, the songs most likely to be pitched to prospective listeners are those that fall into the comfortable clichés of similar works. You know the types – the midtempo numbers with somewhat awkward hooks, less personal and potentially cheesy lyrics, and extraneous applications of string tracks. For references, see “Heartbreak World” or “Detroit Waves.” It is worth saying, however, that these are not at all bad songs, but they have just been done before so many times, and serve to disrupt the intimacy and contact of Some Mad Hope.

On Some Mad Hope, as with his past efforts, Matt Nathanson proves that he is one of folk-pop’s best-kept secrets – a diamond in the rough ready to hit it big with the Starbucks or VH1 crowds. The market for another early John Mayer or Chris Carrabba might not be what it once was, but there should most certainly be room enough for a release as solid as Some Mad Hope. Definitely worth checking out.


Recommended if you like: Howie Day, Ronnie Day, Dashboard Confessional, Ryan Adams, John Mayer, Cary Brothers
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 20.
09:00 PM on 09/30/07
#2
James Shotwell
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i loved the song he had in all three American Pie films
09:02 PM on 09/30/07
#3
michael17
Steve Van Tine
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spot on review. excellent album. matt is an awesome musician and is really funny live
09:15 PM on 09/30/07
#4
Selftitled02
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good review. Wedding Dress and Gone are such good songs.
09:17 PM on 09/30/07
#5
S9Dallasoz
Knows the words to 'Bye Bye Bye'
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Love this album, best singer/songwriter album I've heard in '07 so far.
09:26 PM on 09/30/07
#6
radxbandit
i don't know
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this is a good cd
09:44 PM on 09/30/07
#7
zclark
this is everybody's air sir!
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i love the production on this record
09:53 PM on 09/30/07
#8
hitchum
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There have been some really good singer/songwriter releases this year (Josh Ritter, Emerson Hart, Matt Nathanson, Graham Colton)... Jason kept talking about the Cary Brothers album, but honestly I didn't think it was that great... There were a couple great songs though...
09:53 PM on 09/30/07
#9
hitchum
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There have been some really good singer/songwriter releases this year (Josh Ritter, Emerson Hart, Matt Nathanson, Graham Colton)... Jason kept talking about the Cary Brothers album, but honestly I didn't think it was that great... There were a couple great songs though...
10:50 PM on 09/30/07
FeynmanWannabe
Take Ecstasy With Me
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Glad to read a review of this on here. Not sure why, but I've enjoyed Matt Nathanson significantly more than I do a lot of his peers. While this doesn't quite stand up to Beneath These Fireworks (and maybe it will since I haven't listened much) it's a solid album nonetheless. Good review.
11:56 PM on 09/30/07
Momo32T
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I was a little pissed when I preordered the album and it seemed like no one on absolutepunk.net knew who he was/cared he had a new cd out. great cd, deserves more than a C+ though
02:59 AM on 10/01/07
Steve Henderson
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I was a little pissed when I preordered the album and it seemed like no one on absolutepunk.net knew who he was/cared he had a new cd out. great cd, deserves more than a C+ though
If you guys look at the rating it gets dragged down by a lack of originality (which I do not think can be argued). Read the review and you will see I liked it a great deal.
06:04 AM on 10/01/07
evan324
just put some vinegar on it dummy
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i never thought anyone on absolutepunk.net cared about matt nathanson, i posted his CD being released back in august but no one made a post on it.. this cd has not left my car since august 14th when i bought it... matt nathanson is by far my favorite artist out there, and everything he makes it amazing.. heartbreak world is such an amazing song on the new cd.. i was waiting for this cd for almost 2 years since he released beneath these fireworks.. now i just have to see him live, i missed out when he came to boston.
07:05 AM on 10/01/07
annieee
if i'm the fire you're the spark
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i never thought anyone on absolutepunk.net cared about matt nathanson, i posted his CD being released back in august but no one made a post on it.. this cd has not left my car since august 14th when i bought it... matt nathanson is by far my favorite artist out there, and everything he makes it amazing.. heartbreak world is such an amazing song on the new cd.. i was waiting for this cd for almost 2 years since he released beneath these fireworks.. now i just have to see him live, i missed out when he came to boston.


go see him next time you get a chance! he's great live and he's really, really funny.
07:18 AM on 10/01/07
UnintendedBliss
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Yes! So glad to see Matt Nathanson get some ap notice!! :D

I would definitely say he's better than his contemporaries, and particularly better than Howie Day, who I think is a little on the cheeseball side.

Like said above...go see him in concert, he's absolutely amazing.
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