On March 2, Ajay Mathur dropped Little Boat, his latest collection of songs. Mathur was born in India and now resides in Switzerland, where he blends Americana and rock elements into a unique style of music.
During the ‘70s, Mathur performed in well-known venues in New Delhi and Mumbai, joined by big name stars from the West, including Jimmy Page and Don Cherry. In Switzerland, Mathur’s band Mainstreet performed throughout Europe and had a series of Top 20 hits on the Swiss charts.
The songs on Little Boat were inspired by Mathur’s personal life experience of growth through adversity. His thematic approach encompasses humor, defiance, hope, liberation, and celebration. Musicians on the album include Mather on guitar, vocals, and keyboards; Christian Winiker on guitar, lap steel, and bass; Fausto Medici on drums and percussion; Gregory Schaerer on bass; Dani Lauk on blues harp, Cajon accordion, and tin whistle; and Rupak Pundit on Tablas percussion.
Of the 13 tracks on the album, a few stand above the others. “Start Living Again” presents a drawling, twangy ballad with a great steel guitar imbuing the tune with dripping color. There’s an Eagles aura about the music, cool and country that makes it alluringly attractive. The title track rides a country-flavored indie tune tinted with psychedelic guitars. It reminds me a bit of Jimmy Buffet because of Mathur’s inflection and phrasing.
“My Wallet Is a House of Cards” combines punk-lite and Mississippi swamp blues into a grinding, grimy tune reminiscent of ZZ Top. Revved-up, reverbed guitars infuse the tune with a raw and intense energy. “Ordinary Memory” features a drawling SoCal country flavor with a beautiful chorus, as the harmonics merge to form a layered radiance.
“Time for Deliverance” blends soul and R&B elements into an oozing, sticky tune smoldering with dark sensuality. I love the creamy vocal harmonies gliding and wafting like the caress of a smoke-filled room. This might be the best tune on the album because of the sultry braying of the sax and the suggestive hues of Mathur’s voice.
Little Boat is a good album. Mathur’s voice is at its best when darkly inflected with down and dirty tones. Only one of the songs left me dissatisfied, “Grooving in Paris,” which means the other 12 songs are either good or better than good. Little Boat is worth a listen.