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Album Review: “Desire” – Mattanja Joy Bradley

 

I don’t usually review albums at full length, when it’s already out in the world. But I chose to review this for many reasons, the main one being the premise. 

Desire, is inspired by a year-long adventure through the states in a beat-up 40-year-old RV she transformed into a tiny house with an on-board music studio. During this time, Marina had no plans in place so she busked, camped, and met many legends in unexpected places. The album represents a memento of an unforgettable journey, full of adventure and self-discovery. Each song is a stop on the road, a snapshot of a moment, an emotion, an experience. 

How could I resist? I have tea and biscuits. 

Let’s go. 

  1. Desire

This track starts off the album with percussion and brushes on a snare, this has a distinct country feel to it. Mattanja Joy’s voice is beautifully reverbed making her voice sound like she’s in a huge auditorium – her voice is strong enough already so this lifts her voice to the centre of the whole track. 

I like how everything around the song is respectful of her voice and this becomes even more apparent at 3:26 with these  harmonies come in and also there’s a higher voice doing a bit of a wordless solo…

Stunning. 

Shout out to the drummer for using mallets on their toms. 

  1. California 

This next one chugs along and the little guitar strings remind me of car horns as you whizz down the motorway. I initially thought it was the sound of a train whistle but it’s not. This is how you make your instrument talk! 

This has a driving beat it’s not too fast and Mattanja Joy’s voice goes between blues and country again. I’m second track in and I think I’m in love with her voice. 

The guitar solo at around 2:08 deserves a round of applause as well as the bass at around 2:32 there’s a really tasty run that happened that I had to go back to.

This is essentially a love song about California, a love hate relationship maybe.. 

Yeah that’s it. 

  1. When Lovers Become Friends 

This takes the tempo down a little bit… I think that’s a double bass on this, and I like the warmth of the sound on it, it’s got a nice little twang especially on the sliding of the notes. Mattanja’s voice goes into soulful jazz territory while the guitar has a bit of distortion on the two and four of the beat, and it’s a glorious sound!

This is probably my second favourite track on the album, also the drums sound like they’ve got character, I’m starting to notice this is a thing where instruments have a lived in feel, it adds to the grit of the song, Willie Nelson has this beat up old guitar that’s practically got holes in it that looks like it’s been through the wars but boy does he make it sound good… same with Seasick Steve…. 

I love it!

This kind of recalls the premise of the whole project – a 40 year old beat up car that’s been transformed into a house, you’re taking something old and lived in and making it into something new. 

What a concept. 

  1. Trouble Dear 

“Boy, look over here,

You are trouble dear,

You turned out a liar

No manners and drunken choirs.”

Wow. What a lyric. 

You’re drawn in from the beginning. The whole arrangement of this song is well thought out, I’d say this would be perfect for a Quentin Tarantino film, or maybe even Seth McFarlane who could pull off a film where the character’s a loveable rogue, with that grainy western feel. 

I could just imagine this being on that soundtrack, and just mapping out the story of a legend who’s misunderstood, he could also be mythical…

It’s strange how a song could conjure up such a vivid image of someone straight away just on first hearing it. 

Definitely one for the music supervisors.

  1. Lost Souls

Oh.

Now we go into acapella territory here at the beginning, Just the first 20 seconds before Mattanja is joined by a guitar and strings… This is emotional! The guitar riff is hypnotic, and it stays with you, but for me it’s Mattanja’s voice, what a performance she turns out here! 

She sings the wordless adlibs at the end and I got goosebumps – it’s the same thing that she did on “Desire”. Sometimes the words just aren’t enough. 

Again, drummer with mallets. Strong track! 

  1. Siren Song 

Mattanja’s storytelling in her lyrics are on point. 

“You are my John Doe,

I’m just a doll in your play, 

We’ll always be strangers 

Like night and day.”

It’s a song about meeting a stranger that she’s known for years but doesn’t truly know, she knows she doesn’t belong in his world but she’s still drawn to him, hence the siren’s song, he will become her undoing… 

Definitely in my top 3 on this album, and it’s a STRONG album….

7. Liquid Dreams 

Epic ballad to close this project out? 

Of course. 

Slide guitars, acoustic piano, and Mattanja’s voice bluesy as ever. 

From an album filled with outstanding vocal performances, this to me wins the award for her vocals. There were standout songs in terms of songwriting and musicianship but this to me is where I got invested to say this is a fantastic album altogether. 

Oh there’s a Hammond organ! I heard the growl!!! You can’t miss it and it rings out towards the end the final closing chord. 

Just a nod to the lyrics….

“Liquid sunshine 

Falling down on my face, 

Slow dancing in the enchanted land,

Slow dancing filled with dreams…”

Yep.  

This is avaiable on all platforms now. 

Special thanks to Danielle Holian @Liberty Music PR

 

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