The prestigious Vanguard label is pushing way too hard on a Jimi Hendrix comparison, not to mention ongoing overkill on the Native American slant, for Mato Nanji, a member of the recent Experience Hendrix Tour. They should know better. If not, then history has many casualties in this direction for instructive illustration: Eric Gales, Randy Hansen, etc. (hell, even the once-brilliant Alain Johannes ran up against some of that). Not until late in the CD, cuts 7 and 8, does the disc rev up to any degree of fiery tempo and appreciable showcasing of lead riffs. However, elsewhere, extensive use of wah and vague timbral relations to Jimi's habits aren't going to obtain the gold ring, not by a long shot. Hopefully, Nanji was as burning on tour as the promo lit claims because Broken Lands isn't going to do the job.
On its own, as highly acousticized electric slo-folk-blues, there' s a decent bias in reason for praise but it need also be said that the acoustic side creates a dragline on the electric, not to mention the fact that the largely unchanging rhythms don't create the tension and interest the first CD did. One must suspect Nanji's not getting the management and production advice he should. In many ways, his sophomore effort is mindful of what happened to Frank Carillo, a Clapton protege who was label-guided into oblivion.
Broken Lands should accomplish more than it does, all the elements are there, they just aren't arranged very well, which goes to again prove that arrangement skills are just as crucial as the writing. Despite a desire to see this as an extension of the disc I reviewed a while back (see here), it's disappointing though passable enough listening. That, however, doth not elation make.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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