Above Ground Fools
Reviewed by: Geno Thackara
Whatever Matt North does, you can tell it’s up-front and honest without any tricks. Unsurprisingly for someone with a long history as a stage and session drummer (not to mention some ventures into comedy), his voice is seasoned while his songs are full of real life and real people. In time-honored Nashville tradition, his solo debut is about half country and half rock and roll – straightforward meat-and-potatoes tunesmithing with an ice-cold lager on the side. Find any bar or party south of the Mason-Dixon with a classic-rock soundtrack and Above Ground Fools should fit right in.
If that all sounds overly familiar, well, that’s just the kind of charm he’s aiming for. This is the kind of music that settles into your head like it’s always lived there. North is out to clink glasses and share a few slices of life. You’ve heard about or perhaps met all these people: the guy making rash decisions for money, the capable woman who needs to get rid of a moocher boyfriend, maybe the married couple falling apart after life wears down the excitement. A couple of the less pleasant women seem like the kind that only exist in country songs, but that doesn’t stop the band from pounding out those numbers with a sense of fun that’s genuine enough. North is decently capable in stepping up to the mike, while his rhythmic background keeps the tunes groovy and punchy throughout.
The crew (all fellow seasoned players with some impressive resumes) is never less than solid and professional; they know just when to hit the beats and add some backing voices, warm organ or slick slide guitar. The songs are sketched out with workmanlike simplicity, each hung on a simple verse/chorus formula with a few bridges and solos in the right places. If you want nothing more than a couple beers at the bar on a night out, Above Ground Fools should just about hit the spot.