Matt Nathanson

Matt Nathanson

Beneath These Fireworks


After releasing five independent albums, San Francisco’s Matt Nathanson has finally hit the big league by signing with Universal. He may be tipped to be the next John Mayer or Jack Johnson, but Nathanson’s major label debut is closer to the Goo Goo Dolls’ more commercial moments, and indicates that the transition from the indies has diluted his immense talent.

Long-time fans will be disappointed by the manner in which expensive producers and engineers have polished his sound, and even though there’s no denying the appeal of songs like the urgent “Suspended” and the emotive “I Saw,” the album sometimes feels a little too slick. Indeed, the singer-songwriter has surrounded himself with some the best session musicians out there on, yet note-perfect potential hit “Bare” seems somehow contrived. “Curve of the Earth” continues the Goo Goo Dolls similarities with its syncopated acoustic rhythms and commercially viable chorus, while “Bent” is typical Dawson’s Creek fare.

The delicate acoustic ballads “Angel” and “Little Victories” thankfully get back to Nathanson’s roots, and give the impression that a more accurate representation of his work can be found on stage rather than on vinyl.

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