I didn’t grow up listening to the blues. I grew up because of the blues. I was raised in Bloomington, Indiana – daughter of a retired master sergeant teaching ROTC at Indiana University. I was allowed to do exactly three things: be quiet, get good grades, and obey. It was exactly in spite of those parameters that I found myself sneaking into the Bluebird on Kirkwood with a fake I.D. (sorry, Bluebird) to catch as many masters as I could (sorry, Mom). Blues, the blessed union of rules to freedom, suffering to beauty, creates the purest connection between the ears and the soul. A good solid blues song is a gift, and true blues virtuosos are a blessing. And so it was with great joy and elation I was handed Matthew Curry’s Shine On, set to drop 9/16, to review.
Curry’s father encouraged him to pick up the guitar when he was just four years old, and pick it up he did, albeit not in the traditional way. The little left-hander improvised and flipped the guitar upside down. Today he brings audiences closer to god on a left-handed Eric Clapton Signature Fender Stratocaster. Shine On is his third release, hot on the heels of back-to-back LPs If I Don’t Got You (2014) and Electric Religion (2015). Opening track “Blink of an Eye” gives good intro, bright and promising and delivering on that promise with vocals boasting of maturity beyond Curry’s 21 years on earth. I know that’s not unheard of in this genre, but it’s not the norm, and if you don’t believe in reincarnation you cannot explain the depth and wisdom his vocals reveal.
In an earlier interview, with 96.5 Fox, Peter Frampton stated, “… someone asked me in an interview today if I thought there could be anymore guitar heroes. Well, hell yes of course and Matthew is one who will prove that to be true.” The second track, “Caroline” is a the antithesis of that prediction. Title track “Shine On” drum rolls into muddy waters. It’s heavy in a rock-a-bye-whiskey-baby kind of way. This track is church, through and through. “Electric Religion” drops in with a Mississippi riff, paving the way for a driving rhythm and melody that shuts your eyes, shuts your mouth, and commands obedience in a way no preacher or papa could. “Matter of Time” could easily be mistaken for an early Clapton deep cut, and “Draw the Line” incorporates a church organ to support the solid soulful sound of Curry’s lyrics and delivery.
The beauty of blues is that it truly meets you where you are. It embraces failure and hope, while promising neither. Curry embodies that spirit in an inherent, natural, blessed way. If blues is a religion, Curry is an ordained minister, and it’s time, Brothers and Sisters, go to church.
You can order pre-order Shine on at iTunes and check out matthewcurry.com for tour dates and vestments.