Matt Backer – Backernalia: Album Review

Fifth solo album from guitarist/songwriter Matt Backer showcases his guitar slinger prowess

Release date: 21st May 2021

Label: Right Recordings

Format: CD / DL

There he is on the cover. Foot on the monitor, Flying V poised and looking not unlike Richie Sambora. Not that Matt Backer is the stereotypical guitar hero. Far from it. Despite the fact that he has a CV (and probably a little black book) to stir up seething jealousies, Matt Backer seems a humble guy.

He’s strutted his stuff – actually he probably didn’t strut at all, probably just adding his contributions with a classy and restrained style – with the likes of Alice Cooper, Sir Elton, Aimee Mann and Emmylou Harris and maybe many of us were unaware of a twenty-year stint with Eighties pop stars ABC. However, the set he delivers on Backernalia gives a snapshot of just what he can turn his hand to.

Aside from the musical variety on display, there’s a significant element of fun and lightness to the themes that run through the display of slide blues, moody blues, choppy funk and soul, jazzy art-rock and good old pop sensibilities. Even an Unrequired Love Song – does what it says on the tin. He’s accompanied by some crack musicians (hey – the Mat Backer backers…) and a splendid selection of vocalists. Mari Wilson (with added glamour) contributes to The Eyes Have It that broods in a dark Steely Dan lounge style and Susie Webb on Dictator’s Daughter, just two of the standout performances.

A few Knopfler-esque notes pop their head above the surface on Secondhand Heart, but amazingly given the range of styles, it’s the only time I hear another guitarist’s influence or inspiration coming through. Having said that I’m reminded of something of a Free/Bad Company riffage part to Mystic Rulers. The sort that would have inspired a fledgling Def Leppard back in the day. And anyone craving a more straightforward and simple rock song gets their wish with the bonus of an R&B groove All Kinds Of It with some clever lyrical interplay (including chicken bones and constipation – unrelated of course) and a honking harp and guitar duel. Brilliant track and typical of the fun Matt seems to be having making this record. All wrapped up with a lively take of Billy Boy Arnold’s 1955 I Wish You Would (see below) which was surely written to be performed by Matt Backer.

The devil may have washed his hands of Matt Backer. You might find him declaring he’s nothing but a middle-class white boy tryin’ to have some fun, but it’s mission accomplished.

Matt Backer online: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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