Shake The Roots

Bennett Matteo Band

Gulf Coast, 2022

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The Bennett Matteo Band is a roots-rock group based out of California with their feet firmly planted in the world of the blues. Ironically, it’s when they move away from the blues that their debut album, Shake The Roots, has its greatest successes.

Things get off to a bit of a shaky start with “Doesn’t Really Matter,” a competent enough song in itself, but devoid of the raw emotion the listener needs to make it memorable. It’s not that the core of the group—guitarist Gino Matteo and vocalist Jade Bennett – don’t have the chops on this one. It’s just that the overall style of the song fails to connect with the band’s core—and this is knowing the recording is aided by members of Rick Estrin’s backing group The Nightcats.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

However, first impressions are not always accurate—and the four songs that follow the opening track are absolute barn-burners, showcasing the best that the Bennett Matteo Band has to offer. Tracks like “Shiny Creatures” and “You’re Nothing” demonstrate that the band could be at their best when they break out of the blues-oriented mold and just let the creativity flow, genre be damned.

Bennett is a decent enough vocalist, and her power is showcased on tracks like “Shiny Creatures” and “Warm Inside.” For his part, Matteo’s guitar licks are fairly tasty, and Nightcats guitarist Kid Andersen (who co-produced the album with Matteo) also contributes in various musical aspects to the project. But don’t be fooled into thinking this will be a Nightcats knock-off project; the Bennett Matteo Band definitely has created their own sound, which just happens to occasionally dip into the world of the blues.

Not everything on Shake The Roots works as well, though. Tracks like “Paid & Broke” and “Oh Lord,” which do lean more on the blues world without being 12-bar clones, don’t quite pack the same punch as the most powerful songs on the disc. However, this is still a young and developing band that’s still finding exactly where they fit into the musical world. Once they have discovered this, there’s no doubt they could be an extremely powerful force.

As it is, Shake The Roots is a solid debut effort, even with its occasional mis-step. I’ll personally be keeping an eye on this group to see just where their efforts take them in the future… and I have a suspicion that I won’t be disappointed.

Rating: B-

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