Even though he’s made six of them now, singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson notes that “I feel like making records is really the thing I have to learn to do.”
But judging from his latest, “Some Mad Hope,” he’s making pretty good progress.
Filled with acoustic guitar-based melodic pop, the album has helped him build a new (and young) fan base thanks to singles such as “Car Crash” and “Come On Get Higher” and song placements in TV shows such as “NCIS,” “Women’s Murder Club,” “Private Practice,” “Big Shots” and “Scrubs,” among others. But Nathanson, 35, says he also took great pains to make “Some Mad Hope” more sonically accessible than its predecessors.
“I really wanted to strip things down,” the Boston-area native says, “and boil them to their essence in the way a Pretenders record or a U2 record do, like Tom Petty’s ‘Wildflowers’ or Johnny Cash. I just feel like great records boil things down to their essence and everything hangs on the frame of the song so that everything’s crucial and nothing is superfluous.
“I feel like we got moments of that this time. I feel like this is the most consistent record, for sure, in terms of making me go, ‘That’s what I want. Cool!’”
Emboldened by “Some Mad Hope’s” success, Nathanson says he wants to “put that other stuff behind me and kind of move on.” And even though there’s still plenty of life left in the current album, which came out in August, Nathanson voices an ambition to be even bolder on his next venture.
“I just feel like I’ve cracked the surface, really,” he explains. “I’d like to try and step even further outside the box. I’m not saying I’m gonna make
‘Dark Side of the Moon’ or anything, but (‘Some Mad Hope’) is definitely the beginning of something.”
Matt Nathanson performs with Jason Mraz and Justin Nozuka at Riverfest, 7 p.m. Saturday (May 24) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward. Tickets are $27.50. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
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