The singer-song­writer from At­lanta is a new kind of rock star, full of style and swag­ger

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE CRITICS’ CHOICE - LOUISE BRUTON

For so many mu­si­cians, the visual el­e­ment of their mu­sic can some­times ex­tend who they are as an artist. Mattiel di­rects her own art­work and de­signs the sets for her mu­sic videos, so her out­put is 100 per cent her. And like so many other mu­si­cians, the singer-song­writer from At­lanta, Ge­or­gia, puts in a dou­ble shift each day; the first as an il­lus­tra­tor and graphic de­sign artist for the on­line mar­ket­ing plat­form Mailchimp, the se­cond as a rock star.

Hav­ing creative con­trol over visual out­put re­quires a deep sense of know­ing who you are as a per­son and how you want to be por­trayed as a mu­si­cian and Mattiel Brown knows ex­actly who she is. From teach­ing her­self gui­tar as a teenager who pored over White Stripes records, she learned about swag­ger and from the likes of Nancy Si­na­tra, she learned about style. And be­cause an ed­u­ca­tion in style and swag­ger is never done, we turn to Mattiel, this week’s VBF, for some es­sen­tial lessons.

Dressed in white ten­nis shorts, a white zippy and white base­ball cap for her Count Your Bless­ings video, a song that could have been penned for a desert-based Tarantino movie, Mattiel re­mains still as pur­ple pow­der, chopped toma­toes, feathers, flour, paint and slices of bread are flung at her. The video, directed and pro­duced by Mattiel and Ja­son Travis, mixes hu­mour and a dead­pan se­ri­ous­ness to cre­ate some­thing won­der­fully ab­surd. Team­ing up with Travis again for Whites of Their Eyes, she plays the Lone Ranger with a twist. Al­ways alone, she stands on top of a white horse, shoots red flares into the sky and stud­ies some recipes from a Cook­ing with Soup book. Us­ing close to no bud­get but spar­ing no imag­i­na­tion or silli­ness, Mattiel makes sure that what we see and what we hear is all her.

TV star

Con­tin­u­ing this way­ward cow­boy stance, her re­cent per­for­mance – her de­but TV per­for­mance, ac­tu­ally – of Count Your Bless­ings on Later … with Jools Hol­land adds to the song’s fe­roc­ity. The cho­rus turns into an im­pas­sioned yo­del, not far from En­nio Mor­ri­cone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme. Dressed all in black, she throws her body into the lyrics, spit­ting each word out with venom, com­ing in like a dark force. Where there’s colour, irony and fun in her mu­sic videos, she’s an enig­matic performer who sum­mons up dark clouds when nec­es­sary.

Re­ly­ing heavy on deep south blues and rock for this record and us­ing her song­writ­ing as form of sto­ry­telling, com­par­isons vary from PJ Har­vey to The Black Keys and Patti Smith. With the tra­di­tional idea of the rock star dy­ing out and be­ing re­placed by the pos­tur­ing of Arc­tic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and Kasabian, it’s re­fresh­ing to see Mattiel be her­self on­stage and still be ev­ery inch the rock star we need in this day and age. She works off a dif­fer­ent fre­quency and while she nods to her mu­si­cal he­roes in her songs, the mu­sic she makes feels ut­terly dif­fer­ent.

Mattiel is a pony with many tricks, and even she’s still rid­ing the wave of this year’s de­but self-ti­tled al­bum, it feels as though we’ll see this triple threat (singer, song­writer, de­signer) ap­pear in many shapes over the course of the next few years.

Mattiel plays The Grand So­cial, Dublin,onNovem­ber10th


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