Matt Barrow is a rare find in today’s music industry as he creates rock and roll music with a very old-fashioned sound. With the help of bassist Xavier Gonzalez, multi-instrumentalist John Schreffer Jr. and drummer Tom Fillman, Barrow’s sound often lies somewhere between roots rock and rockabilly. This blend of straight-forward rock blended with other styles music created by Matt Barrow and the All Nighters shows up on the band’s 2012 release Welcome to California.
Welcome to California begins with the title track. Proving that they stay within the boundaries of real rock and roll, this first track will remind listeners of the sound of the band Them as Matt Barrow and the All Nighters create a song that is reminiscent of that band’s hit song “Gloria”. It is the vocals of Barrow, along with the guitar playing, which creates that comparison when you listen to the track.
While keeping the energy level of the music up, the sound of the band changes slightly on the next track of the album entitled “New High New Low”. While staying with a roots rock sound, the band also incorporates some rockabilly feel into this track, giving the song a slightly different rhythm to the music of the track.
“When they go insane, I’ve got to go”. This is probably the best line in the song “When My Baby Lost Her Mind”. A rockin’ song having to do with reaching that final straw in a relationship, “My Baby Lost Her Mind” is easily the most lighthearted song on Welcome to California by Matt Barrow and the All Nighters. The song features rock music that is slightly closer to today’s style than that of the previous songs on the 2012 release.
It is with the track “Passing By” that the album changes pace and feels slightly different than the songs that came before. While the previous tracks contained music in the rock vein, “Passing By” has more of a folk flavor to it. With the inclusion of Barrow’s acoustic guitar and the steel guitar from John Schreffer Jr. as well as mandolin from Casey Cannon, the lighter, slower pace of “Passing By” creates a very strong contrast to the four songs previous tracks. The tempo picks back up on the track “California Gold”. Staying with the influence of the steel guitar, Schreffer is once again featured on this track as he adds the sound of the lap steel to this track. Singer Funky Jean Gibbons is also featured on this song as she adds some harmony to the track.
While the majority of Welcome to California features music with a roots rock base to it, Matt Barrow and the All Nighters are more than just rock musicians; they are all-around solid musicians that have the talent to produce music of various styles. It is on the track “Whole Lotta Lovin’ (Just a Minute)” that you really get an idea of what these guys can really do. When the band puts down their rock instruments to pick up acoustic guitar, dobro, fiddle and harmonica, the whole feel of the band changes and they produce bluegrass music that feels just as authentic and natural as the rest of the music on the release.
Bringing the energy of the album back up in a big way, the release of Welcome to California comes to an end with the song “49 Women”. With blues/rock music that easily brings to mind that of Stevie Ray Vaughn, “49 Women” once again send the music of Matt Barrow and the All Nighters in a different direction from the majority of the release. However, the blues/rock music played on this track is just another instance that proves each member of the band is talented and versatile when it comes to creating music.
Welcome to California from Matt Barrow and the All Nighters has many enjoyable moments contained in the short 34-minute playing time of the album. No matter if it’s the roots rock music, the bluegrass or the slower pace of the track “Passing By,” each song on this release will grab your attention. The music of Matt Barrow and the All Nighters proves itself to be timeless.
Review by Matheson Kamin
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)