Ajay Mathur released his latest album “9 to 3” in May of this year. The 15 song LP showcases a broad range of songs with an underlying influence of the blues, folk, rock, americana, and pop. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Tom Petty can be heard in Mathur’s songwriting. The backing band has a sound similiar to The Band – they exude a seasoned and sensible aesthetic. The swiss artist produced the entire album which is truly Mathur’s strongest asset as a whole.
I wish there was at least one song I loved on this 15 song LP but there isn’t. Nothing is original or new. Rather, each track feels like versions of songs I’ve already heard before. And each song is not amazing enough that I don’t care I’ve already heard a similar song sung before by someone else who did it better. I can tell Mathur is a sensible and creative musician and these are such important and commendable attributes. But it’s not fully translating in his music. It’s not transcendent.
Mathur’s voice, delivery, and style leave me irked more than anything. I hate to say this considering I know he has great taste. It can be heard in his instrumentation and production, but I feel he is the weakest link to every song on the album. The arrangements, solos, and production are great but then he starts singing and things go down hill.
It just doesn’t quite work. His singing doesn’t add anything to the music. Perhaps he’s not singing in his voice but rather imitating the greats like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Tom Petty. This doesn’t work because we already have them to listen to. We don’t need an imitation. We need something else, something new to listen to.
I think he should write, arrange, and produce for other artists. These are his greatest strengths as far as I can hear. The two things I do appreciate are the arrangements and production value. If he focused more on that and had other people sing the songs, it may have transformed into something quite different.