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  • Bryon Harris

Matt O'Ree Band - 'Better As I Go'

Review by Aaron Cloutier

The “Matt O’Ree Band” satisfy your eardrums with the inescapably groovy “Better As I Go.” The first single off of their recently released album “Hand In Glove” is a tasty slab of tried and true blues rock that pays homage to hooks just as much as it bows before the grandeur of the almighty riff.

With diverse influences ranging from Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, to Aretha Franklin and Etta James, listeners will quickly discover that the vibe on “Better As I Go” is so thick and heavy, it’s nearly tangible.

Drummer John Hummel’s behind the beat approach and sense of size makes me think of the legendary John Bonham and serves as the perfect foundation for the other’s to build upon. As soon as you hear Hummel’s sexy groove blend with the slinky bass lines courtesy of Lex Lehman, the combination is sure to open up them hips and get you moving.

If that wasn’t enough already, things are quickly elevated as Guitarist/Vocalist/founder Matt O’ Ree lays down some heavy artillery in the form of gritty 70’s inspired rock riffs, and blues infused licks drenched in feeling with great tone. Keyboardist Matt Wade weaves in and out of the spaces provided adding interesting textures and melodic flourishes.

The cherry on top are the soulful vocals of lead singer Eryn O'Ree whose presence nearly jumps out of the speakers as her wide vibrato and gritty delivery scream conviction and passion. What a powerhouse!

What immediately grabbed my attention was how much these players act as a unit in service of the song. For example, once the pre-chorus hits, the band makes room for a wall of vocals courtesy of Matt, Eryn and backing vocalist Layonne Holmes who’s contributions elevate the sound to create a gospel choir like effect. Such a great hook!

I keep seeing (or maybe more appropriately, feeling) the word “slither” each time I play the song back. I feel like that’s what I want to do each time I hear this track and it's the best way I can describe the mood. It’s just groove on demand baby! If 70’s rock is your thing, I can guarantee that you’ll enjoy "Better As I Go."


About Matt O'Ree Band

New Jersey's best kept secret is about to make some noise. Over the past few years, The Matt O'Ree Band has done what most area bands do. They've played their shows, developed their sound, released records, and very quietly built a local fan base in the process.

What makes this band different from all the others is that their local fan base includes Bruce Springsteen, David Bryan, and John Popper (all of whom have volunteered to perform on the band's last album several years ago) which broke the band globally. Bruce Springsteen contributed vocals and lead guitar on O'Ree's song "Black Boots" and David Bryan from Bon Jovi co-wrote and produced the album's second single and played on numerous other songs on the record.

Matt's talent was finally recognized globally when he got the nod to occasionally join rock legends Bon Jovi as one of their touring guitarists. When some of your biggest contributors and supports have sold a collective 240 million units, you know you might be on the right track.

The band is currently touring to promote their new album, Hand in Glove This latest album shows the influence of each of the band members, featuring more songs written by the band as a whole and including more songs where Eryn sings lead vocals, as evidenced by the first two singles, Whole Lotta Nothin’ and Better as I Go. What hasn’t changed is that the songs are true blues rock n’ roll featuring Matt’s ripping guitar and gritty vocals, Eryn’s powerful wail and impressive range, both technically and stylistically, the pair’s off-the-charts vocal chemistry, Layonne Holmes’ soulful back-up vocals, Lex Lehman’s smooth bass tones, Matt Wade’s colorful keys and THE John Hummel’s behind-the-beat Bonhamesque drums.

Each of the band members brings their special brand of talent spun from influences such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Bad Company, Deep Purple, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, ZZ Top, and Rush, to name a few.

Matt has also been recognized by the industry for his guitar playing skills. He won a guitar contest hosted by BB King and John Mayer through Guitar Center and Guitar World Magazine. Matt beat out over 4,000 guitar players in that competition to win him the grand prize, multiple guitars and an endorsement from Gibson guitars, shopping sprees with Guitar Center and a car from Scion. This major accomplishment really sparked his career and the momentum for the future of the band.

“It was one of those moments when after all those years of slugging it out, I felt like I finally got someplace,” O’Ree said of Guitarmageddon. “It was a great moment. It was like, wow, I finally accomplished something. Getting to meet B.B. King was fantastic!” And with that honor came another notable occurrence. O’Ree, who owns over 30 guitars, received an endorsement of world class Gibson guitars, makers of the Les Paul model, Matt’s guitar of choice.

Matt's writing is inspired from many life experiences and years of study from the ones who have written the book on how to play real guitar rock music. Not as a photocopy, but in a new light that hasn't been seen in quite some time. Now is the time for real music and real musicianship to make a resurrection.


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