Whatzup
Unspoken Conversations
Matthew Sturm

by Jason Hoffman Unspoken Conversations

Matthew Sturm has been kicking around the Fort Wayne music scene for the past few years, polishing his stage presence to a razor sharp edge. When he decided to move from the coffee houses to the clubs he wisely surrounded himself with musicians even more talented than his formidable self. It just happened that Jamie Simon and Jerry Sparkman (bass and drums) of The Blue Moon Boys had their schedules free, as did guitarist Thom Grant of the amazing Red Ball Jets. Starting your band with an established rhythm section is like learning to drive in a Mercedes, but Sturm has never been one to do things on the cheap.

For instance when the Matthew Sturm Band went to record their first album, they went to the most prestigious studio in town, Sweetwater Studios. Producer George Conner found their first takes too polished and decided to record the band live, allowing them to give vent to their natural raw edge that often only finds expression through a live performance.

And just like their live shows, the 14 tracks on Unspoken Conversations span a variety of styles while maintaining a warm, fun and friendly feel. The album roars to life with “So Tired,” although the roughed up modern guitars and energetic pace are anything but lethargic. “Runnin,” and “Placid” have appealing hints of Matchbox 20 that effortlessly bring a smile to your face. “Atlantic” surprises us, with Sturm showcasing his admirable skill on the piano as he passionately sings this sad ballad. The Dave Matthew band gets the nod in “Stories,” a quiet song that builds to an incendiary guitar solo. Speaking of solos, “Girl Crazy” takes a bluesy riff, pumps in a bit of 70s R&B for a solid groove and then lets everyone take a solo. “Ahhh” starts off with piano, sounding a bit like a Ben Folds Five song, but quickly takes off in its own direction, compliments of the very inventive bass line. The Barenaked Ladies get their day with the breezy rockabilly of “The Previously Unsung Story of Joey Licciano,” which has the great line of “I’ll tell you the story of a guy that you once knew / Though you never, ever wanted to.” Although many artists have been mentioned, Sturm doesn’t resort to ripping off any particular sound. His skill at songwriting is so well developed that he’s able to effortlessly incorporate these myriad influences into a new and very enjoyable creation.

Unspoken Conversations will give even dedicated homebodies a chance to hear why this band was awarded the “Best New Band of 2003” Whammy, in addition to being selected for two Essentials CDs (both songs from these collections are included as unlisted bonus tracks). It’s mature rock with instant appeal backed by solid musicianship. What are you waiting for? Get off yer duff and get thee to a Wooden Nickel post haste!!!

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