Scrapomatic – I'm A Stranger And I Love The Night (2012)

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When Derek Trucks and wife Susan Tedeschi effectively combined their bands into the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, it was a musical marriage made in heaven. There was, however, one casualty of this merger: the Derek Trucks Band got mothballed, regulating its lead singer, Mike Mattison, into a backup vocalist role within the TTB. I’ve got nothing at all against hearing Susan sing — who in their right mind does? — but I kind of miss Mattison’s raspy, smoky voice.

Scrapomatic to the rescue.

Mattison’s own project Scrapomatic isn’t of course just his gig; Paul Olsen has been the guy at his side since they started this band back in the mid-90s. Mattison, a Harvard grad (I don’t care who you are or what you do, that’s damned impressive) and Olsen, a two-time ASCAP songwriting award winner (that’s damned impressive, too) gigged together for several years before making their first, self-titled album in 2003, following up with Alligator Love Cry in 2006 and Sidewalk Caesars in 2008. Four years later, they’re returning to what Mattison refers to as their “creative engine,” Scrapomatic, and they call this new album I’m A Stranger And I Love The Night.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Mike Mattison and Paul Olsen blur the lines between folk, country and blues – just like the old days – on their most recent release, Sidewalk Caesars.]

The Mattison-produced I’m A Stranger And I Love The Night was recorded at Trucks’ and Tedeschi’s Raga Swamp Studios in Jacksonville, Florida, but this time, there’s no Trucks guest appearance. That’s likely due to the recent addition of a third permanent member, electric guitarist Dave Yoke. Yoke, an Atlanta area sideman and former member of Tedeschi’s band, brings a diversity of playing styles to match the diversity of song styles of Mattison and Olsen, and acts as an aggressive counterpart of Olsen’s on guitar. Ted Pecchio (bass) and Tyler Greenwell (drums) make up the rhythm section.

Olsen, a smoother, gentler crooner, is himself a perfect counterweight to Mattison, and he applies his lead vocals to his well-conceived folk tunes like “I’m A Stranger And I Love The Night” and “Don’t Fall Apart On Me, Baby.” Mattison, meanwhile, lends his soulful growl to Texas-style blues (“Alligator Love Cry”), rowdy roots rockers (“Rat Trap”, “The Mother of My Wolf”), and soul ballads (“Party’s Over,” video of live performance below).

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: The Tedeschi Trucks Band follow up a Grammy winning debut album with an invigorating live document, Everybody’s Talkin’.]

And Yoke? He may not sing or write songs, but he makes a great band even better: he’s making hay on the grimy blues of “Crime Fighter” or laying down soulful remarks in the instrumental break of “I Surrender” or unleashes stinging lines on “Rat Trap” and that groovin’ funk-rock number “Night Trains, Distant Whistles.” Yoke’s solos are concise, savory and add a little bit of sharp rock edge the duo might have been missing before.

Scrapomatic waited a little later than usual to make a new record, but I’m A Stranger And I Love The Night is worth the wait. With a legit full time lead guitarist in David Yoke mated to decorated songwriters in Paul Olsen and Mike Mattison, Scrapomatic is even more the complete roots rock band than before. And, it’s nice to hear Mattison sing out front again.

I’m A Stranger And I Love The Night goes on sale August 21, courtesy of Landslide Records. Visit Scrapomatic’s website for more info.

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