Matt Zaddy, Mississauga’s humble, talented musician and all around great guy, recently released his debut album called Perfect Moments in late 2015.
The best way to describe him is aptly stated on his website: “Matt Zaddy is the kind of songwriter you feel you have known your whole life.”
Kinda hard to top that kind of a statement.
His bluesy-folksy sound is beautifully illustrated on Perfect Moments through five well written songs with very honest and unapologetic lyrics framed by songwriting and musicianship with a very modern feel.
Zaddy, a left handed guitarist (Ned Flanders is cheering somewhere in Springfield), has been at this for over a decade and he’s culminated all of those years and experiences with a small yet strong collection of music that’s got great hooks, smart guitar parts and a backing band that does a terrific job of framing his work.
On a Monday night in April, I drove to and from Collingwood in an SUV that had a remarkable sound system that made Matt sound like he was playing live in the passenger seat. Not a bad way to spend three hours.
I reluctantly admitted that to him over the phone the next day and he, to my surprise, said that’s exactly what he was going for. He wants the record to feel as if he's sitting next to/in front of you playing these heartfelt, honest songs. So it makes perfect sense when he cites Ryan Bingham and Neil Young as influences, as they’re storyteller songwriters in the same vein.
I’ve separated this into a track by track review and I didn’t pick a favourite because the entire album is right up my alley. It’s got elements of early John Mayer and Dave Matthews with traces of Ryan Adams with Bingham and Young thrown in there as well.
What helps this record stand strongly is that while Zaddy’s influences are present, his voice and music are presented in a unique way through this album that gives it a sound that cuts through.
Not quite cuts like a knife, though. Sorry, Bryan Adams.
1. A Way Out
The lead track that’s full of syncopated rhythms, the mostly acapella intro is a great way to introduce the album. And then the staccato chords come in and then the subtle drum beat kicks in and those long-held piano chords…so, so good.
The call and response vocals at the tail end of the tune are so well done and the “less is more” approach of only having them in a few times will pull you towards listening to the song over and over. While I could eat up a couple hundred words about this tune, you should listen to it for yourself.
I dare you to only tap one foot to this tune.
Standout lyrics: Feelings jumbled all around and through, between the sight and sound of you.
My perfect moment: 2:53 to 3:21
2. Perfect Moments
This upbeat number starts off with a moving riff that sets the tone for the song and the descending pattern in the verse is offset nicely by the counter melody.
The full drum kit is used and you can’t help but tap your foot to the shuffle feel (kinda like 'Rosanna' by Toto or 'Fool in the Rain' by Led Zeppelin).
It’s evident that Matt likes his harmonies as they’re well placed throughout the song.
There’s just enough distortion on the guitars to hear it but not be overpowered by it.
Hey Matt, who’s Eleanor?
Standout lyrics: The time I spent on books and beers and love and love and lousy poetry.
My perfect moment: 0:11 to 0:26
3. These are the days
The single guitar into to this song is so well-written and a great choice for the median track. The smart use of arpeggios and picking through chords really showcases Zaddy’s talents and that he’s a fan of strong rhythmical patterns.
Halfway through his solo performance, there’s a dynamic shift where the rest of the band kicks in and lifts the feel of the song from sombre to upbeat and lively.
At the three minute mark, it dips back down for a good contrast and brushes are brought back into the fold to find a middle ground to the two previous contrasting styles. The use of a half time feel for the latter portion of the song is well-executed and there’s no lagging feeling.
It really is a great use of three different styles that flow nicely.
Standout lyrics: You’re nowhere near your plan and these are strange days.
My perfect moment: 3:05 to 3:39
4. Who We Are
Zaddy uses simple chords, powerful lyrics with well-placed harmonies and to me, this simplicity showcases just how tight his band is. They’re the vehicle of the song while the vocals are the steering wheel.
What comes across as a conversation with someone from his past is echoed through lyrics we all think to ourselves at some point when thinking of the past. And that’s exactly what I (and maybe you) want out of a song; to be able to completely relate to it. That’s what you’ll get by listening to this song.
Standout lyrics: Drink to friends we lost along the way.
My perfect moment: 3:50 to 4:06
5. The Road
The human side shows with the accidentally recorded laugh to launch the track.
Starting simply with a four chord acoustic riff, a way out churns forward with strong snare drum work via brushes and the sparse lead guitar lines add the right amount of colour to this serene track.
Well-placed harmonies accent the tune and the guitar solo is, well, it’s sweet and well written. No overkill here, just well-placed notes that matches the feel of the song.
Standout lyrics: A tear I did not expect rolled down my cheek.
My perfect moment: 2:28 to 2:58
There’s plenty more on the horizon for Matt with new songs, videos and gigs coming up over the next few months. That’s in addition to the rotation of jam nights he hosts in the city, so to say he’s a good ol’ hard working musician is an understatement.
Pick up a copy of his music and stay up to date on what he’s up to via his website, www.mattzaddy.com.
Oh, and a portion of the sale of every CD supports a select group of charities.
If you want to share your thoughts on his album, I’m always up to talk music.
Or you can bypass me and head over to our Facebook page.