It’s evident that songwriter Matthew Mayfield listens to and expresses a wide variety of musical influences. But there’s no confusion in his background on this Coquette EP. Mayfield is letting Guns n’ Roses, ACDC, and Led Zeppelin shine through on every track. There’s one lighter track called “Ride Away” in the middle, but the rest are heavy rock songs. And they are freaking phenomenal.
The riff at the beginning of “Rock n’ Roll Man” gives the listener chills. It’s a sort of “shut up, are you serious?” kind of song. I genuinely think you could put this track in a jukebox and tell people in the bar that it’s a Zeppelin song and they wouldn’t be any the wiser. It’s that kind of epic. Just this side of metal, it’s got the bluesiest lyric and riff combo I’ve ever heard in, “you want that love, but you can’t have it.” Seriously it sounds like it’s right off of a Zeppelin or ZZ Top album. The guitar licks, the drums, and Mayfield’s vox are on point through the whole track. It’s a serious song of the year contender, for sure.
It’s no secret that Mayfield is proud of his Alabama roots, but his expression of loyalty to the Music City on “Nashville, Tennessee” is evident. It reminds listeners that Nashvegas is about more than country music. It’s about trying to make it in Nashville, a place that is by most accounts a “make or break” music town. “Welcome back honey to Nashville…” seems to be the kind of gritty lyric talking about hopes and dreams, trying to make it in music but having to move on. It’s about the sacrifice of the rockstar life, “sell my soul to hear my single on the radio.” The musicality is raw enough to go with the sense of adventure, fear, and raw energy that it takes to make it in music. Phenomenal, really.
Fans of Mayfield’s solo music are probably feeling a bit lost at this point in the review. This doesn’t sound at all like the Matthew we know and love. Well, he put one song on this… maybe to stop our brains from hemorrhaging after all the head banging… called “Ride Away” that is much more chill. It’s still an unapologetic rock jam. It’s just much more romantic and melodic, featuring, as he noted in the album trailer “an actual major chord or two.” His sense of humor about the nature of this album – expressions of genuine rock – is evident throughout. “Ride Away” is a nice anthemic break between the head bangers.
“War Machines” is the most industrial, mechanistic, modernist grungy rock song I’ve heard in a long, long time. But what I like about it is that all of the dissonance is intentional. There’s no warbled, lazy sounds. Every twang and crashing rock styling is there to highlight Mayfield’s lead vocal. “Oh you oughta know… all you need are war machines!” It’s got a great base guitar lick, a sweet blues root, and the album title “Coquette” hidden in its lyrics. It seems to be about an almost violent form of lust. It’s a rockstar’s track, for sure.
Where some of these tracks sound like classic rock, “Regeneration” shows Mayfield’s much more recent influences. Sounding a bit like something from the late 90s or early 2000s, it’s got a heavy, full-throated rock sound complete with chill, gritty lyrics. The gang vocal on the chorus sounds like something off of an actual metal album. It’s got all the reverb and power to leave an impact. It does.
The last track “Off My Tongue” is just perfect for concluding the album. It’s upbeat and hard driving. In fact, it’s an excellent highway jam. It’s about the rock and roll life style and a woman who is bad news (or is that redundant?). It caps off an incredible album full of these kinds of exquisitely-strained vocals that highlight the impressive range of a true rock vocalist. Sliding seamlessly into a melodic bridge, the band comes back off of it for an appropriately hard ending to the album. It feels simultaneously like we’ve been properly … treated right … while also wanting to have it all over again.
It’s the kind of album where every new track feels like “oh, THIS is the single.” But honestly, the whole thing is packed with amazing songwriting and fantastic riffs. I unequivocally recommend this album to pretty much every fan of rock music. Seriously the genre runs the gamut, but every track here is great in its own way. If you don’t like hard guitar licks and killer vocals, you are not really a rock fan. Real rock fans only need apply… and you are going to LOVE this EP.
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