Once upon a time there was a band called Furyon. They had an album called “Gravitas.” It was ace. It had a song on called “Disappear Again” that was so good there are ginormous bands that haven’t got anything close to it.
They tried. And tried.
Then there was a band called Colour Of Noise. They had Bruce John Dickinson from Little Angels in. They were ace. They toured a bit, then to be totally honest I don’t know what happened.
The reason for this preamble? Well Matt Mitchell was the singer in both. Actually, calling him a singer almost seems disingenuous, the fella is a force of nature, with a roar that many would kill for.
And in case you hadn’t guessed, Matt Mitchell And The Coldhearts is his latest endeavour, his latest bid for the stardom that should belong to a man of his talents, maybe?
It certainly feels like his most personal effort to date. Self-evidently, it bears his name, but it is more than that. The stories here reflect real life. As he suggests himself: “[the people on the record are the] people that have been part of my life, the people that have loved, cared, nurtured, hurt, inspired, broken, stayed strong, lost themselves, found themselves. Family, friends, honesty, dishonesty, music and the music business, integrity and faith. The songs in this self-titled album are inspired by all these things.”
More immediately, perhaps, it’s worth saying that if you liked either of the bands I mentioned above (or indeed Pride, the AOR revivalists that launched his career) then you’ll love The Coldhearts too. That’s not to say, though, that this is a mere rehash, because it is anything but.
“Black Diamonds” – the lead track here – proves that actually. It has the same bluesy, hard rock chug, but there is a liberal dose of organ here, as if he’d been listening to Deep Purple before recording the thing.
“Home” too, showcases Mitchell version 2019, as it were. Mid-paced, more singer/songwriter than before, but as accessible as you like and his ability to write a hook is undiminished.
Best of all, probably is. “On And On”, a masterclass in British hard rock, there are hints of The Answer here, and there’s a proper fists in the air feel too. This is balanced out by the following “Dare You To Watch”, which – however many times I listened to it, kept bringing me back to the same thing, the second Stereophonics record when they moved themselves to arenas.
That album came out in the late 90s, and there is a suggestion of that throughout. “Kings And Queens” has a slightly AOR thing going on, which as fine a cut as it is, doesn’t sound too much like it came out in 2019.
“Unavailable” gets down and dirty (“we’re both in need tonight” he sort of half whispers and I am not sure he’s talking about needing a Nando’s) and struts his funky stuff, and “Do You Wanna Be My God” has the self-confidence to be a huge hit, if rock n roll ever got huge. I can pay it no higher compliment than say this: the chorus had me reaching for my copy of Honeycrack’s album.
“Old Enough And Ugly Enough” is a big old ballad. Unashamed too, but with a kind of cracked, Americana, blue collar vibe. This, though, is well-paced collection and “Wave Goodbye” switches up a gear or two.
Across the 12 songs that are on “….Coldhearts”, there are a couple of moments when it almost got into U2 type waters. “Everything To You” stops paddling on the shore and dives straight in, and as if to make certain everyone understands that it’s a different Matt Michell this time around, then there is a real country taste to the Lap Steel infused “Keep Me Safe”, which also adds some trumpet for good measure, while the grandiose “Waiting For The Sun” doesn’t even hide its intentions to be big.
That is Matt Mitchell And The Coldhearts, really. Keeping all the elements that have always set Mitchell apart, but adding some new colours to keep things fresh. It is a record that suggests throughout that he’s not going to rest until he’s given everything he’s got.