Ajay Mathur’s 9 to 3 is a thoroughly enjoyable album.
I like it because this guy is like me, other than making music, he can’t seem to commit to one thing. He’s like a madman in that he’s all over the place.
That’s not to say that this madman is a genius. I don’t think even a genius would take the label, which is a “genius” thing to do.
No, Ajay is genuinely having a hell of a great time making music and boy does he know his music styles!
I’ve had my share of the coffee house music scene which is a culture within itself. It’s kitschy, modest, stripped down; a little Jason Mraz or Trout Fishing In America which is what I compare this too because I think it draws the same crowds, or maybe the more adventurous margarita crowd, if you know what I mean.
The thing about Mathur is that he shows there are no rules. The man throws everything and anything he wants in the mix, kind of like what I do with my laundry. You throw everything in there so there’s a big clothes party, right? We don’t separate things here.
Walking On The Water is a standard title and it’s one of the two opening tracks which balance between country and Americana. His vocals sometimes have that late era Bowie feel to it after about 2:35.
Even though the first two track on this album snap right into the genres they’re performed for, the changes within the songs sometimes feel like he’s forcing two different songs that don’t work together to fit.
But as he said in a interview with MusicPerk:
My song writing process is almost always the same; first the melody. When I get a melody in my head it almost always comes with the theme of the song lyrics, sometimes even with big chunks of the verse and the chorus lyrics. What happens next is that I try not to record, write or save the melody straight away, but let it rest for a couple of days. If the melody sticks in my head for those couple of days, then I know that this could be a song.
And he’s totally right. Those changes begin to sound natural after repeated listens and I know longer know that there was anything off to begin with, and if the interview is steering me in the right direction, then it seems pretty obvious to me he knows he only has to alter the keys one or two notes in either direction to make the songs more interesting.
Ajay then switches to hard rock on Nothing Really Matters with a dexterous guitar solo that were it in a higher octave, it could have been wailing hair metal style.
But then… THEN! This fuck’n guy goes right for loungy with the fourth track, Latin Lovers with maracas, sultry island steel guitar and background singers! You’d think it was a bit of a joke and who knows, maybe it is but there’s no hint of a dull moment.
I LOVE IT!
I just had to take a break at this point, it was just too much for me to handle. And I STILL HAVE ELEVEN SONGS LEFT!
Check out the track I Mantra where he lays it on really thick with the sitar and tablas. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s got great knowledge about music styles, I’d think he was holding those instruments hostage so that we could like this stuff. That’s the fight I’m having before he starts rapping, yes rapping, and using the work fuck and I’m almost throwing my hands up in the air.
Ajay is a lot like Harold And The Purple Crayon where he can draw himself out of any ordeal, you can’t corner this guy at all. In case you didn’t click the link I suggested for this comparison, he’s like Bugs Bunny and I’m Elmer Fudd.
To put things in perspective, Ajay was born in India and spent a lot of time in the music scene there. No doubt with more than just native local influences, there’s Western stuff here too or if you prefer a shorter route, to his East.
He really lets the sitar style guitar playing stand out in the fifth track Oh Angel, which changes the direction of the album once again and the arrangements are spot on.
This makes a difference to me because as a “ethnic” guy, I understand the importance of owning a culture and being able to display profoundly. That’s when I really started to pay attention. I’d put him in league with Freddy Fender or any other of Tex-Mex legends around here.
Again, there’s nothing confining Ajay to a specific form. He even goes as far as to use a chorus of children singing in the background and if he feels it, loops them saying S.O.S while voices speak and mumble on a nearby radio.
That’s only covering the first half of this album. The rest of it has even more of a story to tell because you’re still up for some serious surprises, like for all you Beatles fanatics out there, he taps into that too. Love Madness is Americana cool with a good case of the blues. The lyrics are pretty straightforward where at the most, the analogous references are broad and whimsical.
I find his work refreshing with its going back to basics and challenging the way he makes me all weird with where he’s going. Totally caught me off guard, bravo Ajay. Well-played sir, well-played.
Keep on this guy and don’t let him out of your sites by checking out his: