Matthew Logan Vasquez is feeling optimistic. That's not necessarily apparent the first time you spin his new full-length solo album. Each track on Does What He Wants feels urgent and intense. Impatient landlords, financial woes and other frustrations fan the agitation embedded in the opening track, "Same." Isolation darkens the brooding images of "From Behind The Glass." Death takes a bow on "The Fighter." Vasquez can't help but juxtapose the celebration of "Fatherhood" with a lament that "we ain't got the money to pay the hospital."
The music enhances this impression. As fans of his work with Delta Spirit and Middle Brother know well, Vasquez knows how to fuse passion and poetry in his writing and then ignite this volatile mix with extraordinarily expressive singing. In this sense he stands as a peer and a worthy successor to those who influenced him as an up-and-coming artist – Neil Young, Kurt Cobain, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed and others often mentioned, none of them known for their upbeat, sunny lyrics.
Does What He Wants is like a hall of mirrors, each capturing a different image of one self-aware and restlessly creative individual. The pure finger-picked acoustic guitar that sets up vivid stories on "The Informant" and "Tall Man," the retro textures of "Headed West," the lofting melody that evokes Roy Orbison, the waterfall of harmonies in "The Fighter" – this music is diverse yet unified, a priority for its author. And, in the end, it turns out to feel pretty optimistic after all – a perfect statement for these times and possibly for some time to come.