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Scrapomatic - I’m A Stranger (And I Love the Night)

Landslide Records

12 tracks

Scrapomatic features one of my favorite current day singers and song writers, a wicked guitar player who also is a damn fine singer, and now another darn good guitar player along with a big time rhythm section. These are all original songs that blend blues, country and folky rock into a splendid stew of delightful music. I’m A Stranger (And I Love the Night) is a thoughtful, musical, and intriguing album that will give listeners their money’s worth and then some.

I am speaking of vocalist Mike Mattison of Derek Trucks Band/Tedeschi-Trucks Band fame. Suave, cool, controlled, emotive, seductive, understated, gutsy, impressive; these are just a few of the adjectives and adverbs describing the prowess of the man’s ability to spin a vocal tale. His Scrapomatic partner of many years is Paul Olsen who writes along with Mike, plays guitar and also fronts the band. His voice lends more towards the country rock side of vocals, and he is able to hold his own substance-wise with Mattison’s evocative voice. Dave Yoke is a more recent addition to the band, adding his guitar punch to the mix. Dave Pecchio on bass and Tyler Greenwell on drums are a solid backline to this great ensemble.

The CD opens with “Alligator Love Cry,” an Olsen tune with Mattison singing. It starts with a powerful set of chords on guitar and Mattison giving a guttural performance of a jilted lover shot gunning down his girl and the guy she cheated on him with. He and the guitar trade off on this driving and dark tale of love gone wrong. Olsen follows on the title track that he also wrote where he tells a tale of the girl he left behind for New York City. This is a very cool country ballad with a strong lead guitar line and some intriguing lyrics. Mattison’s “Rat Trap” Is up next. The tempo is hot, the drummer pounds out a driving and no-holds barred beat, Mattison bares his soul and sings of the woman that a “satisfied man wouldn’t choose what you put me through.” The two teamed up and wrote “Night Trains, Distant Whistles,” where Mattison sings of a fulfilled love this time, a nice little song that is more rock than blues but it is a very cool cut with a good guitar solo to boot.

“Don’t Fall Apart On Me Baby” features Olsen singing a song he wrote about working his way back home. A little acoustic guitar is thrown in here nicely. He continues on another of his songs, “I Surrender,” another country-styled ballad, but this time with dual guitars picking out his laments. After this pair of down tempo tracks Mattison blasts off with “The Mother of My Wolf,” a hotly told tale of his women who drove him to his wild side. It’s a searing cut with a really interesting set of lyrics and a flaming beat. Mattison wrote this and “Crime Fighter,” another thoughtful down tempo number where he squeals out an intriguing falsetto. Solid, slow blues delivered up in a very interesting way. Nice work!

“Malibu (That’s Where it Starts)” was penned by the two band members and Mattison delivers another fine performance. The chorus here is especially good; a fine slow blues rock ballad. Olsen’s “How Unfortunate For Me” is up next. He goes really old school here, almost vaudevillian. Kevin Hyde’s trombone wah-wah’s along with Olsen’s crooning and crowing and the guitar just smoothly flows from note to note. Interesting! “The Party’s Over” is Olsen showing us another interesting song with Mattison delivering the goods. Mike moans and wails about one last fling and the guitar wails with him in a vibrant solo. They close with “Gentrification Blues” where Mattison writes and Olsen leads the vocals. They sing the song of the plight of many a great city where we traded slums and barrios for expensive gentrified neighborhoods that all look and feel the same. This could be a modern day Dylan song, where Reagan’s bull is shouted down, class warfare is in progress, and cities became something new and shiny but less over all. Very, very cool stuff.

Folky, rocking, twanging, and bluesing all rolled into one. If you are looking for straight up, old style Chicago blues then don’t stop here. But if you are looking for modern, thought provoking, barrier breaking songs delivered with great gusto then this is an album for you. DTB fans will eat this up- it is very well done stuff. I loved the CD and found Scrapomatic to be a fine band with a very cool sound! I look forward to digging into more of their work!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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