Matt Marshak — Urban Folktales

May 22, 2011

Ushering in his sixth release since 2001, smooth guitarist Matt Marshak continues to show not only his mastery of the guitar but a maturity in terms of crafting appealing melodies that are truly aural pleasures, caressing the soul as well as the ear.  They feel as good as they sound. Never has this been truer than here on his latest, Urban Folktales.

Opening with a soulfully tender track entitled “Teddy P” (hmm… any guesses?) , Marshak struts through the album with the confidence of one who knows he has the groove nailed.  Speaking of strutting, track two, “Next to You,” features saxman Marcus Anderson on the vocoder, and a slow, sensuous cadence  is established and most fitting for the ladies. While we’re at it, speaking of “sensuous” and “ladies” in the same breath, you might find yourself replaying several times track 4’s “Tell Me How You Feel” with Gina Breedlove’s sexy chorus vocals.  Again, the melody, a collaborative effort between Marshak, Anderson, and members of the band  make this all work so well.

Marshak’s smooth delivery and his perception help to shape this project into one of his finest yet.  There’s body, substance, and plenty of presence in this material.  Steady, rhythmic, mid-tempo tunes like the reverb-heavy “Peace by Peace” and “Harlem River Drive,” with its own deep and funky persona, call to you in a manner that makes it hard to ignore them. In fact, much of this album strikes me that way.

I’ve been told that I write with a good deal of enthusiasm and put a lot of me in my writing.  Yes, and I always will because of my unbridled love for this music. When I listen to the artists who obviously share that love, I make no pretenses at austere and “distant” observations which may or may not be seen as the accepted, comfortable position of objectivity to take. The material appearing here on this site appears here for one reason: We believe in it and think it’s very worthy material.  Otherwise, we’d pass on a review.  As a well-written, diverse, and generous 13-track batch of smooth material, Urban Folktales is quite worthy and is the one “storybook” you want to experience.  – Ronald Jackson