So there I was, standing outside One Longfellow Square waiting for the doors to open to the Music Video Portland Awards Show (which were spectacular) when I spied a poster for the upcoming Katie Matzell EP-release show. I’ve loved the song “Don’t They Say” since Matzell released it last fall.
The song is bright and funky, with Adam Frederick on bass, Emmett Harrity on keys, guitarist Max Cantlin, drummer Chris Sweet and Lyle Divinsky, Anna Lombard, Gina Alibrio and Monique Barrett on backing vocals. In other words, Matzell assembled a cast of local superstars, and they all sound sensational. Matzell’s vocals are sweet, full and gorgeous.
Suffice it to say, I was thrilled to hear a new batch of songs was ready for the world. So, right from my phone, I fired off a message to Matzell asking her to send me the EP stat. When I strolled into my office the next morning it was waiting for me via email and I put my headphones on and readied myself.
Matzell is the daughter of a former radio disc jockey and grew up with access to a formidable record library in her basement. On her website, katiematzell.com, she lists major influences as The Beatles, Bonnie Raitt and Aretha Franklin. Matzell also just spent a weekend in Massachusetts at a vocal workshop led by Lake Street Dive’s Rachael Price. Not too shabby!
As for the rest of the tracks on the EP, they’re fantastic. “Brick Sidewalks” is a silky smooth, slow jam with bass lines you’ll feel in your toes. The song also has something of a reggae boppiness to it, making it all the more ear-friendly, and Matzell’s voice blossoms like petals opening in the warmth of the sun.
“Better Late Than Never” is a dreamy, breezy number with angelic backing vocals floating like feathers throughout it. The bass on this one is thick like molasses.
Matzell and her crew turn in a wondrous, slowed-down take on the George Harrison-penned Beatles tune “I Need You.” The song is certainly recognizable, but it has more longing in it vocally than the happy-sounding original version. Well done!
“On the Line” continues down the R&B path with horn, hand claps and the ever-present burly bass lines that are a key ingredient of the entire EP. “On the line, on the line/Got to get those linens on the line/Gotta get me to the church on time,” sings Matzell, stretching out vocally at the end of each verse.
Matzell’s EP ends with “That Kind of Love,” and she chose it well as the final song. This is a song with teeth. Cantlin’s guitar is scathing, and Matzell’s vocals are fierce and dazzling.
Hear these songs live and pick up a copy of the EP at the show, and keep up with Matzell on her website and on Facebook.
By the way, you won’t want to miss Dominic Lavoie of Dominic and The Lucid. Killer guitarist, great songwriter and mighty fine singer.
8 p.m. Jan. 27. One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland, $10 in advance, $12 day of show. onelongfellowsquare.com