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Music Review - `Matamoros` by James Kahn (dmac)

James Kahn - Matamoros  (click on image to watch video)

 15 January 2020



James Kahn subtitles his album, “Songs of the Civil War, the Wild West, the Shanty Seas, and the Haunted Heart,” and it’s one expansive project filled with epic songs (some reaching six and seven minutes in length) and overall clocks in at over an hour. Kahn is also a novelist, which shows through with his attention to detail throughout these fourteen songs. In fact, every song is about one of the characters in Kahn’s Civil War novel of the same name (Matamoros), which is described as a story that takes place in Texas and Matamoros, Mexico, a region on the other side of the Rio Grande. Furthermore, he’s worked as a television writer-producer, with credits for Melrose Place and Star Trek: Voyager. Listening to him sing these story songs, however, you might – if you didn’t know any better – guess him to be literate, grizzled old folksinger. A damn good one, too!

Kahn gets right into character for the unaccompanied shanty “Solomon’s Shanty,” singing it just like seaworthy Irishman. Texas history is the setting for “The Mighty Fine Texas Rangers,” a song featuring plenty of acoustic picking, giving it a bluegrass feel. “Mildred’s Waltz” is exactly what its title suggests, a waltz.

An album as literate as this one is a rarity. To be honest, many contemporary pop songs read more like the work of high school English class flunkies. Not so with Kahn, though, who easily raises the songwriting to the graduate college English literature level. Few songwriters have the determination to tell full-length stories through their songs. Greats, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, are a couple of notables in this limited group coming immediately to mind. Therefore, James Kahn has placed himself in a uniquely special group with this song collection. These songs are so good, in fact, they make you want to read Kahn’s novel to learn even more, which makes this album a storytelling gem.

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh


Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio,, Country Standard Time and 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here






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