Dusk_span3
March 2008

Matt Dusk
Back in Town
Decca Records

Crooning by committee. Such is the impression this disappointing exercise in overkill leaves. There’s no question that twentysomething Canadian Matt Dusk has a sturdy set of pipes, a solid sense of swing and a polished appreciation for Rat Pack-esque showmanship. But, churning through most of the dozen tracks that fill his fourth studio release, it seems painfully evident that Dusk isn’t being recorded but packaged. The arrangements seem too grand, too slick; the strings too lush and loud; the phrasing oddly forced, resulting in a style that sounds less like Sinatra and more akin to a curious melding of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

It conjures images of label executives, producers, managers and publicists crowded around young Dusk, calculating how to shape him into another Michael Buble. Well, the jazz world doesn’t need another Buble, but it always has room for another Buble-sized talent. It’s evident on a handful of Back in Town’s tracks—a nakedly lovely “More,” a delightfully percolated “Get Me to the Church on Time” and a breezily self-confident “Who’s Got the Action”—that Dusk has such potential. First, though, he’s gotta strip away all the excess and artifice, abandon all the advisors, and focus on simply being true to his naturally gifted self.

Originally published in March 2008
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