Thursday, March 14, 2024

Album Review: Matthew Logan Vasquez - Frank's Full Moon Saloon

Matthew Logan Vazquez
Frank's Full Moon Saloon
**and1/2 out of *****

Matthew Logan Vasquez has been recording on his own for sometime now. His main act Delta Spirit have broken up, reunited, recorded and toured off and on over the years but he has steadily released solo offerings in-between. Now he takes a second to 'reimagine' tunes from his Delta Spirit days in acoustic based, organic fashion on Frank's Full Moon Saloon.

The effort strips away Delta Spirits indie rock touches and tempos for a more roots rock interpretation. MLV has stated he was influenced by Let It Be...Naked and Taylor's Version recordings when it came to this project. It is a nice way to go back and revisit some songs that might not have gotten as much love when they were originally released. 

Delta Spirits first two albums get the bulk of this treatment as "Parade" and "Strange Vine" arrive from Ode To Sunshine and "Vivian", Salt In The Wound", and "Bushwick Blues" are from History From Below. "Parade" is the best revision of these, it plays as a slowed down Beatles sad song, which MLV sings winningly. He received some help from Scott McMicken on this track as the effort expands into trippy, swirling, psych-folk territory. "Strange Vine" feels like the original with some added flamenco spiced acoustic guitar while "Bushwick Blues" turns into a country lament and "Vivian" a harmonica intro'ed slow waltz, both highlighted by MLV's emotional vocals. 

If Vasquez felt the need to redo his vocals, his voice has only improved over the years, but it was fine to start as well. The idea to make these songs more fluid and less programmed pays dividends on opener "Yamaha" which moves as easy rolling folk rock with strums, tambourine, drums, and electro keys. The vocals may shine brightest on "Tear It Up" which is slowed down, moved along with twinkling guitar and spectacular singing.   

The only effort not from Delta Spirit's back catalog comes from MLV's side project Middle Brother with John J. McCauley III of Deer Tick, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes. The song "Blue Eyes" has a twangy, Neil Young-like country vibe that isn't that much different than the original. Where Delta Spirit songs can certainly sometimes use some stripping down, this one is pretty solid in every form. 

A vanity project of sorts, yet a pleasant, low stakes one at that. Having these indie rock songs in roots rocks form is a nice way to revisit tracks from Matthew Logan Vasquez past while relaxing in Frank's Full Moon Saloon.
Support the artist, buy the album, peep some video below:

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