You may recognize the name Matthew Logan Vasquez as the lead singer of the band Delta Spirit, but now Vasquez is venturing out on his own solo adventure with the release of Solicitor Returns, (Feb. 9th) and the record proves that he has much to offer the music world.
“Maria” starts off with an unmistakable and unforgettable wailing electric guitar intro that heavily on the psychedelic. As soon as Vasquez voice cuts in, he immediately taps into a John Lennon solo vibe. The tune has an exotic influence which is further explored in lyrics such as “I can’t find mother Maria/Am I lost in Santeria/ I’d do anything as long as I could see her.” It is full of mysticism and has a very sultry undertone with a spectacular guitar solo in the middle of the track that has Vasquez straddling the line between the 70s and 90s alternative eras.
Meanwhile on the far other end of the spectrum, Vasquez taps into The Beatles (Think “Because”) territory on “I Bet It All,” which is one hell of a pleasure to the ears with harmonies that feel somewhat like a religious experience when listening. It is the most soothing tune on the LP, while also haunting and ethereal, and it all adds up to one of the best songs on Solicitor Returns. The instrumental at the end of the tune, with drums and electric guitar kicking in, serve as a contrast to the rest of the track making what started off as a simple song much more complex. In fact the outright choice to have the last half of the track be purely instrumental is brave and makes “I Bet it All” even more terrific of a song.
Always experimenting with different sounds on the album, something that Vasquez does with ease, “Everything I Do is Out” is the one tune that is completely unapologetic, brash, and the most rock n’ roll. “Do you relate to the killer in me?” Vasquez sings, channeling the gravel toned voice of the late great Kurt Cobain. The almost primal screaming, scratchy and raw, is impossible to turn away from. This is the type of song that commands attention and while it may not be for everyone, it stands out on its own on the LP and lets Vasquez dabble in the rock genre with a no holds barred approach. “Rock n’ Roll can never die,” Vasquez wails and after listening to “Everything I Do is Out” it is pretty hard to argue with that statement.
Changing the pace once again “Bound To Her” is a true songwriters song and Vasquez’s storytelling abilities are at its absolute top notch here as he sings about a murdered girl and the case surrounding her. It’s quite deep and intense. Once again a Lennon-esque vocal performance comes to play, especially on the chorus which stings and haunts as Vasquez admits “Every second now I’m bound to her.” It has an unsettling feeling from the pulsating instrumentals to the unnerving lyrics such as “the last thing that Bastard saw was a smile on my face.” It is without a doubt the best track on the LP, and it is sure to remain with listeners long after the first play.
There really is little to nitpick about this solid album from Vasquez. Almost every song is a treasure, and is like an exploration into the many voices inside of Vasquezs’ head. “Black East River” has a country feeling to it and is very smooth and easy to listen to despite its dark lyrics. It’s not one of the strongest songs on Solicitor Returns, but it still pretty damn good. And even though “Stand Up” may not have the best verses it makes up for that on the undeniably superb chorus, with Vasquez pushing his vocal range.
It’s still pretty early in the year, but right now at this moment, Solicitor Returns gets this reviewers vote as best album of the year thus far.