We interrupt the normal Tuesday’s Memes scheduled to talk about something amazing…Matt Nathanson surprised his fans with an announcement of a new album and released it the very next day. The album was only a 6 song E.P., but who cares. Any new music from Matt is super fantastic. The only problem is that it wasn’t actually new music. It was an E.P. full of cover songs.
Now, they aren’t just any cover songs. They are from my all time favorite band, Def Leppard. If you don’t know, Matt Nathanson is a metal head. I realized that a few years ago when I saw Matt being interviewed on the VH1 show “That Metal Show” with Eddie Trunk. Matt gushed on and on about his rock and metal influences and it made me appreciate him more than I already did.
Matt is also one of my all time favorite artist and he can do no wrong in my book. So, let’s throw Matt together with Def Leppard songs and you have what could possibly be the greatest combination in music history. I am not kidding!!
When I saw the track listing, I was a little disappointed with a few choices as they seemed obvious and then stunned at some others as I couldn’t imagine what he would do with it. The songs are as follows:
- Pour Some Sugar on Me
- Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
- Comin’ Under Fire
With cover albums you either need to nail it perfectly or completely re-imagine the song. Matt completely re-imagined the songs. He plays them acoustically and even adds some string orchestration to them. He takes these songs and makes them his own and does an absolutely impressive covers album.
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” off ‘Hysteria’ is one I was not sure how he could do anything with it. That is such an ingrained song into everyone’s subconscious that how could you imagine any one re-doing it. And I will admit he did a great job. He puts a little groove on it and the vocals sound like he is singing through an old radio. He keeps it mostly acoustic and keeps it a little playful. It is pretty great, but I will admit it is my least favorite cover on the album and that is not taking anything away from this song. It just shows how impressive the other songs are that he covers.
“Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” from ‘High N Dry’ has been done acoustically by Def Leppard before so what can he add to it. Matt takes it to a whole new level of sadness and loneliness the song has always contained. It starts off with this lone whistle and then the acoustic guitar is brought in before Matt fills the song with such emotion that you feel his sadness in the lyrics. Where Def Leppard kicks the song up a notch, Matt ends it with the return of the lonely whistling and makes the song such a heart breaking ballad (pun intended). It is perfection.
Then Matt covers “Comin’ Under Fire” from ‘Pryomania’ which was one I was truly excited about as this isn’t your typical Def Leppard song of choice. This version is nothing like the original and it really showcases Def Leppard’s songwriting that is so often missed as even Matt says is the case. The song is completely slowed down and turned into this emotionally, driven song about longing for someone that does’t seem to love you back. It is another song that is sadder than I remember.
“Hysteria” (his second from the album of the same name) is up next and is another Leppard song that has been done acoustically and is one of my all time favorite Lep songs so was hesitant on wanting to hear this one. But as has has shown before that hesitation is unwarranted. He plays it with a piano and with the way he sings he bring every feeling out and it cuts right through you. Another Matt masterpiece.
With all the songs being acoustic in nature, I wasn’t sure what to expect with “Stagefright” (his second from ‘Pyromania’). That song is what Def Leppard sang to open up their shows back in the 80’s. It is a rock anthem that will get you on your feet. Matt is showing now that he is able to re-imagine any song and turn it in to something so different it will be unrecognizable from the Def Leppard version. He breaks the song down to its essence and makes it a songwriters’ song. He brings acoustic guitar and string orchestration into a mixture of pure magic. I might like this song now more than I did the original if that is even possible!!! It is the most amazing song on the album and one of Matt’s most incredible performances I have ever heard. All I can say is DAMN!!!
Matt ends the song with an unusual choice of “Promises” from the album ‘Eurphoria’. As the rest of the album was from the band’s early releases, I didn’t expect this one. It is another great interpretation and just a raw and honest performance of a great Leppard ballad with nothing extra needed.
I have to say this is an exceptional covers album…hell…it is an exceptional album period. Matt Nathanson creates imaginative re-interpretations of some classsic Def Leppard songs and turns them into Matt Nathanson songs. Let’s jut say he “Mattifies” them into his own songs that you would think he wrote himself. If you are Def Leppard fan you are going to love them, if you are a Matt Nathanson fan you are going to love them and if you are a fan of music you are going to love them. Get this release as you will not be disappointed.
I give this a 5 out of 5 Stars!!! Nothing better out there right now and if you don’t believe me, maybe you will believe what Joe Elliot of Def Leppard said on instagram about the album…
“Check out this new EP by Matt Nathanson…re-works of a bunch of DL songs…mostly all acoustic! Some of these songs when I read the titles, I thought no way! But boy they really work! Check out Matt’s version of Stage Fright…it’s an amazing re-interpretaion…I heard through our mutual friend Emm Gryner he thinks we never got acknowledged for our songwriting as much as we should have…well Matt, thanks for noticing!! Congratulations on what is a risky project to try & pull off, you’ve done it & you’ve done it with heart &sould & we love you for that!!!
I will just leave you with that high praise!!!