Under an umbrella label like folk-rock or Americana, it takes more than an acoustic guitar to make a name for oneself. Kalle Mattson fuses popular elements of each of those genres to adorn his specific region of folk-tinged, triumphant nostalgia and makes a solid case for his latest record being wheat rather than chaff.
Informed simultaneously by the sorrowful melodies of ghosts of country troubadours past and the still-kickin’ grit of genre-melding songsmiths his senior, such as Ryan Adams, Wilco, or undoubtedly Neil Young, Mattson bends the rules to create his brassy atmosphere on Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold.
In “Darkness,” the first single on the record, Mattson plucks a pack of chords that ride on the minor, while a horn section embellishes the choruses. It’s a good representation of the more fleshed out, foot-tapping moments on Someday, a clever reinterpretation of classic country Western atmosphere. Colored with some grit and the hint of an Edward Sharpe homage, it conjures imagery of stretched landscapes and a far-off sepia sunset.
Mattson and his players craft ambiance through skillfully layered instrumentation that supplements otherwise repetitive song structures.
This elaboration, along with the rich lyrical imagery, gives a sense of movement to the music, which otherwise might stagnate a bit, ebbing and flowing in the same manner again and again. His ability to narrate personal experiences in a relatable manner ushers the listener into the role of confidant more than audience.
Mattson navigates themes like lost love, lost homes, and death gracefully.
“Late summer in fields of gold/and a story sung is no story told/Waste the days away for the young and old/Waste them all up for you,” he pines at the beginning of “Eyes Speak,” weaving the melancholy and the silver lining into one thought.
Though consonant and unobtrusive to the ear, many of Someday‘s dynamics center around progressions that unto themselves are not persistently exciting. Reverberating guitars, buzzing harmonica, and a snare that rolls along like a tumbleweed do well to beef up melodies that might otherwise be little to write home about.
The vocals can come off a bit affected at times, notably on “Hurt People Hurt People.” But this track is a mostly upbeat romp, and Mattson’s control over his intonation and understanding of his range keep the patterns from veering into the cliche.
“Amelie,” the bare and tragic closing track, in some ways sets a tone for all of the songs that led up to it. With only an acoustic guitar and his voice, singing, “These are the words of a much younger man/I dream of your ghost just to feel you so close/and I don’t understand,” Mattson takes our hand and walks us through memories that play on raw nerves. It’s an acknowledgement of the point when one becomes too tired of wrestling with loss and a vacuum to keep fighting, but still finds themselves empty-handed, without closure.
The trails trod on Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold are not newly mapped territory. Mattson does manage to wind his way down some paths that were overgrown, but revisiting these trails does not constitute forging them. Sometimes, though, as we’re shown through Mattson’s melancholy and patient delivery, the most true way isn’t always a new one.
Kalle Mattson – Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold tracklist:
- “An American Dream”
- “The Living & The Dead”
- “Sound & Fury (A Dream Within A Dream)”
- “Hurt People Hurt People”
- “Eyes Speak”
- “The Moon Is Gold
- “God’s Only Son”
- “A Love Song To The City”
- “Pick Me Up”
- “In The Morning Light”