Monday, May 16, 2022

Indie Music: Ajay Mathur, "Talking Loud"

by Germar Derron


Some may say that Talking Loud by Ajay Mathur is by-the-book Americana. It might be. But it is definitively American. From the first note of the first song, it evokes American summers, America in the 80s, American sunshine, American barbecues, and American love. Talking Loud is not annoyingly dated or nostalgic for nostalgia's sake. This is 1987 summertime, summer fling, feel-good American in the best way.  The album feels like when you watch a movie and it opens with a song that you forgot you loved from decades ago. 

Beyond the nostalgic warm fuzziness, throughout the album, Mathur displays sweetness and sincerity. Multiple tracks and lyrics present clear messaging that pushes toward positivity but doesn't hint at chastisement or judgment.

If Mathur makes a misstep here, it may have been in an area not under his control. Some combination of production, mixing, and mastering may be missing the musical point. Yes, this is indie music. But the lyrics, melodies, and instrumentation are so good that this doesn't need to be "garage" or DIY. Most of the album plays a bit jagged and ragged, where a smooth "sheen" and a bit more vocal processing makes this radio-ready. And that's a positive, even though radio may not be an ultimate goal.

A couple of tracks sit adjacent to Dave Grohl on the softer tracks of the Foo Fighters' 2005 double album hit In Your Honor. And I believe that's the ceiling here--a reasonable and achievable goal.

Under the American and 80s umbrella of this project, Mathur does tour, or sample from, a few other genres. "Don't Want the Phone to Ring" features classic pop storytelling. And the title track, "Talking Loud," if remixed and released decades ago would top the rap charts. And even today, "Talking Loud" stands out as a special song in this collection. 

I never do ratings, but if I did, this earns a solid 3 of 5 stars. 


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