Review: Matthew Stubbs – “Soul Bender”

Posted on: Friday, Nov 28, 2008

matthew stubbs

Matthew Stubbs – “Soul Bender” -Vizztone MS1001

Now this is a refreshing change, here’s a guitar-led CD by a young man that is not a power chord, rock-blues frenzy.  UK guitarists please take note.

Matthew Stubbs is a 25 year old native of New England in the U.S.  He has an excellent CV, having played as a sideman with John Németh and Janiva Magness; his current sideman job is in Kid Andersen’s old seat in Charlie Musselwhite’s touring band.

This is his first solo CD release, and is a catchy blend of guitar-led instrumentals that thankfully does not fall into the trap of being only a guitar album.  The CD features eleven groove-driven tunes that cover a wide spread of blues, soul, RnB, soul jazz, funk and other great grooves.  The top notch band is fabulous the whole way through with special mention for legendary saxman “Sax” Gordon Beadle sharing the main solo duties with Stubbs throughout.

Never copying another guitarists style Stubbs has his own sound covering all the bases in his self-penned tunes.  He is sometimes a little Stones-like, sometimes smooth and soulful, sometimes with a surfy twang, sometimes Cropper and occasionally with a bite of Albert Collins ice.

In the words of guitar legend Bob Margolin “Now I know what it might have sounded like if Freddie King had recorded his classic instrumentals in Memphis with the Bar-Kays or at Hi Records.”

My favourite picks are the rockabilly romp of “Stomping on Thru”, the four-minute guitar and sax workout of “20 Gallons of Beadle Juice” with a killer soul jazz groove, a very catchy head and a couple of key changes to ramp up the excitement plus the closing number “Stubbzilla” with some Stax-style funky intensity.

You can check out Matthew on his website; the CD can be sampled and purchased from CD Baby.  iTunes users can also download the CD from the iTunes store.

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