When considering “blues guitar locales,” chances are your thoughts turn to places like Chicago, Memphis, Kansas City or the Mississippi Delta.
But with a blistering clean tone, infectious chops and a swagger that’s soulful enough to rival that of any blues-fueled, American shredder, Australian-born guitarist Matty T. Wall proves the blues is alive and well Down Under.
His ferocious debut album, Blue Skies, which was recorded between two continents (in New York City and Perth, Australia), is an enjoyable modern take on traditional blues.
With the help of Stephen Walker (bass) and Jasper Miller (drums), the fedora-wearing, Gibson SG-wielding Wall pulls no punches in delivering the blues in a fresh, dramatic way. Whether it’s his confessional storytelling on “Broken Heart Tattoo” and “Love Gone Away” or his fiery playing on “Burnin’ Up Burnin’ Down” and “Scorcher,” Wall has a knack for combining familiarity with a truly original style.
Wall cites influences ranging from Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and there are certainly elements of all scattered throughout Blue Skies. Particularly on the aforementioned “Broken Heart Tattoo,” which seems to channel Hooker’s conversational delivery and conjure images of a sweat-infused, Southern juke joint.
Wall even pays homage to Hendrix on Blue Skies with an infectiously cool and inspired version of “Voodoo Chile.”
One of the album’s final tracks—the hypnotic, solo instrumental “Smile”—offers a different look at Wall’s guitar prowess. It’s also an apropos title—when you consider that Blue Skies is not only an impressive debut from one of the next generation of blues shredders, but also an album that’s bound to leave a big smile on your face.