Launching a debut solo album can often be an exercise in patience and tenacity. All the more reason that Matt Dorsey must be feeling triumphant right about now. Most prog fans who know his name have likely heard his playing in Sound of Contact or on one of Dave Kerzner’s other projects like In Continuum. Whereas SOC bandmates Kerzner, Simon Collins and Kelly Nordstrom have gone on to record multiple releases in the subsequent years (check out recent “The Traveler” and “The Architect”), we haven’t gotten to know much about Dorsey. Until now.
“Let Go” is a power-packed half-hour of short melodic rockers with a shimmer of prog to them. Dorsey sings and plays most everything himself including drums but he brings in the big guns for a few tunes each: the mighty Marco Minnemann and his former Progject mate Jonathan Mover. He even skillfully mixes the album, with mastering by Andy VanDette, and the results are impressive. This is an album that sounds great from a fidelity, songwriting and musical standpoint. After debuting many of these songs on stage at last autumn’s ProgStock festival, Dorsey is finally letting the world experience his studio skills first-hand.
Ironically, “Castles Made of Sand” opens like a Kerzner album with its piano proclamation setting the tone. Dorsey’s vocals quickly make their entrance, harmony overdubs providing a rich presence, though intentionally restrained in their delivery. “Compromise” quickly follows with a lilting 3/4 time signature and we get to hear Dorsey’s singular voice more clearly. It’s a sweet discovery. There’s a quality very similar to that of Duncan Sheik, particularly with the harmonies chosen, which is extremely satisfying. “Will you compromise all the colors in the skies, will you convince your heartbreak all of your lies, just so you can say you were always true?”
Unmistakably, Minnemann enters on “Waiting For the Fall” and here we’re treated to the only other guest appearance on the album, a very Tony Banks-ish keyboard solo delivered by Kerzner himself. It’s a wonderfully aggressive song which continues on the subsequent “Man”. Boasting a U2-flavored rhythm section, Dorsey’s muscular bass playing comes to the fore as Minnemann goes to town on the drum kit. Dorsey even gets in a prog keyboard solo of his own at the end. Play this loudly while cruising with the top down.
“Impossible Friends” introduces a Spanish flavor in its acoustic guitar and piano playing. This clever composition finds Dorsey’s voice low in his register for the verses, only to climb for a soaring chorus. Not sure why we don’t have some castanets in the mix too but nevertheless this is a very welcome splash of color to broaden the album’s scope. “Echo” brings an upbeat foot-stomping rhythm to it with an acoustic foundation, as if inspired by second side of Zeppelin III. Although it sounds like he’s singing “Let go” in the chorus, that’s actually the next song, another rocker propelled by guitar and Minnemann’s drums. “Dangerous” wraps things up which, despite its title, is actually a jaunty love song, leaving us humming along as the song fades out too soon.
With a running time of 30 minutes, this reads more like an EP than a full-length release. Yet strangely the listener is so generously rewarded throughout with memorable hooks and melodies that we don’t feel wanting. There’s few solos or indulgences here, just great songs that are well arranged and performed. And if the urge for a little more does strike, it’s very easy just to hit play and start right from the top again.
Released By: Independent
Release Date: April 7th, 2023
Genre: Progressive Rock / Pop / Rock
- Matt Dorsey / Vocals, guitars, bass, keys, drums, percussion
- Dave Kerzner / Keys on “Waiting For The Fall”
- Marco Minnemann / Drums on “Let Go”, “Waiting For The Fall”, and “Man”
- Jonathan Mover / Drums on “Castles Made Of Sand”, “Impossible Friends”, and “Echo”
“Let Go” track-listing:
1. Castles Made of Sand
3. Waiting for the Fall
5. Impossible Friends
7. Let Go
Matt Dorsey comes to the fore at last, taking on the lion’s share of performances for his first solo album. This is a lean, sleek rock album with enough prog and pop flourishes to please most fans from his Sound of Contact days