Chasing The Sun


Vanguard, 2006

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Stepping out from the restrictions of his band Indigenous, Mato Nanji delivers a blistering 10-track blues rock album so classicist, you won't believe it was released in June 2006.

While this has the Indigenous label, it's really a showcase for Nanji, with only his brother Pte popping up on bass now and again. But there's not much difference between this and previous Indigenous releases; all follow a similar blues-rock template pioneered by Hendrix and Clapton and brought back to life by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Nanji sounds like a reincarnated Vaughan, actually, only without the soul underpinnings of some of Vaughan's work. The resemblance is too close much of the time; many of these songs could double as Vaughan originals, and the disc never really carves out a niche for itself. However, there are much worse bands to sound like than Double Trouble, and my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Chasing the Sun is a quick and fun listen for those who just want to rock/blue out without thinking too hard.

A cover of "Number Nine Train" is the highlight here, the insistent drumming and unflashy solo immediately lodging their way into the brain, while "Come On Home" ditches the electric for acoustic to only average results. The single "Fool Me Again" is one of the few spots with soul, where Nanji actually sounds like he believes in what he's singing, and it's a solid track.

Nanji actually is a solid singer, a bit like Darius Rucker mixed with Vaughan, and he wisely chooses to base the songs here on riffs instead of flashy solos, which are kept short but interesting, never overshadowing the musical message. This is perfect on "Feel Alright Now," which feels almost like Hootie and the Blowfish cranked up to 11, and "The Way You Shake," a funky number propelled by some bottom-end bass work and some excellent blues riffs and solos.

"Out Of Nowhere" is another good instrumental tune but sounds way too close to Vaughan's "Scuttle Buttin'," only slowed down - hearing it made me want to break out the original. "Leaving" is sort of an epic, a towering Zeppelin-inspired piece that's all over the map and the only time on the album where Indigenous carves out a niche for itself, crawling to a place away from its influences and carving out something original. The closing Dylan cover of "Born in Time" is fine but not necessary as well.

Perhaps Nanji will find his own musical voice someday, but for now he sounds way too close to Vaughan and his other idols to recommend this over them. However, taken on its own merits, Chasing The Sun is a solid blues/rock album that, while derivative, is certainly a fine way to spend 40 minutes. Just don't be surprised if, when it's over, you have a sudden urge to listen to the originals.

Rating: B-

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© 2006 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Vanguard, and is used for informational purposes only.