Sunday, January 24, 2016

Album Review: Matt Hopper- First Love

Matt Hopper sounds like an old soul on his impressive debut album First Love.  The young Kansas City guitarist plays with the patience of a sage veteran who feels no need to prove himself.  Rather than peppering the project with flashy solos, Hopper emphasizes tasteful grooves.

Hopper is accompanied by two-thirds of OJT.  Organist Ken Lovern and drummer Kevin Frazee provide the same sort of prudent playing that’s heard at their frequent appearances as the unofficial house band of the Green Lady Lounge and on last year’s correspondingly conventional New Standards for the Green Lady album.

Hopper aligns himself with old-school guitarists like Kenny Burrell rather than modernists such as Bill Frisell on straight-ahead tracks like “Song For Wes” and “Darn That Dream.”

Even so, the album’s most distinctive song is one of the few selections that couldn’t be mistaken for something that was recorded fifty years ago.  Rather than paying tribute to past masters like Wes Montgomery, Hopper explores new terrain on the hauntingly beautiful “Set Your Fears Aside.” 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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