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Joe Matera – ‘Heart of Stone’ EP

posted 18 Aug 2017, 13:06 by Paul Woodward

(RVP Records)

Review by Woody

Heart of Stone is the latest EP from Australian musician Joe Matera. It shows a mix of influences and styles, blending classic rock, sixties pop rock and even has a slight psychedelic edge. I found the production a little light, therefore giving the songs a rawer sound and given the flavour of Matera’s songs it sits in very well with the production style of the sixties / early seventies and enhancing that edge that I hear to his music. So, the production does give this EP a real retro vibe, which I’m sure will appeal to many old school rockers!

Matera doesn’t come across as a very powerful vocalist, his style suits the flow of his songs perfectly but he’s not a traditional rock powerhouse or at least that’s not showcased on this EP. There are three acoustic live tracks included and I was a little stunned at how good Matera is vocally live, I actually thought his voice on these songs was far stronger than the studio tracks, which is very unusual. Obviously with studio recordings it’s easier to achieve perfection from repeated performances and other studio trickery and of course live performances can and will feature imperfections.

The lead track ‘Heart Of Stone’ is very retro, melodic with fuzzy guitars and has a slight psychedelic tone to the vocals. This song has a strong early rock sound, which hints at both the sixties and early seventies era. The acoustic version of this song which follows is even more retro, as I felt the fuzzy guitars on the electric version modernised the song slightly.

Instrumental ‘Live To Rock’ has an early classic rock feel, it has a catchy guitar hook and a good groove with some really pleasing melodic soloing. Obviously as an instrumental this gives Matera opportunity to showcase his guitar skills.

‘Shining Star’, ‘Tell me Why’ and ‘Louder Than Words’ are all live acoustic recordings and to be honest the highlight of the EP to me. Matera comes across stronger as a vocalist on these tracks and I found these songs really memorable and I enjoyed the mild Ricky Warwick touches I felt especially on ‘Louder Than Words’. If you like acoustic performances I would definitely recommend these tracks to you.

I believe ‘Fallen Angel’ and ‘Feel Your Love’ have been released before and have been tagged onto the end of this very long EP at nine tracks (if you include the opening intro). Both songs have a similar feel – very melodic but retro rockers with fuzzy guitars, understated vocals and most importantly memorable choruses.

The acoustic / electric / live performances on this EP show different sides to Matera and provide a mixed bag of his style of rock to enjoy. I wasn’t blown away by Heart Of Stone but I do enjoy it and appreciate Matera’s song writing. I know the retro touches will really appeal to some and is well worth any old school rock connoisseur giving some time too!

Track Listing: Intro / Heart Of Stone / Heart Of Stone (acoustic) / Live To Rock / Shining Star (Live) / Tell Me Why (Live) / Louder Than Words (Live) / Fallen Angel / Feel Your Love

Album Rating: 7/10

Woody’s Essential Track: Louder Than Words (Live)