New York City-based six-piece Matuto are a crowd who bind jazz, folk, and the essentials of Brazilian music together on their current album, The Devil And The Diamond. This 12-track record opens with “Toca O Sino (Ring The Bell),” an instrumental, slap-happy celebratory tune where the accordion and fiddle take center stage. The cohesive thread that ties together Matuto’s full-length is the Spanish style of playing, but not necessarily the make of the instruments themselves. The primary vocalist of the band’s method is understated, but effective, allowing for the unique, erratic melodies to sing for themselves. Even on tracks like “The Way I Love You,” where the lyrical matter is not positive, the sonic nature of The Devil And The Diamond tends to remain whimsical and fun.
On the fifth cut, “Chicken Teeth,” the vibe is more traditional Americana, but in keeping with the Southern essence of this band, it stays country with a fast-paced picking guitar intro to the song. This is a folk-inspired, light-hearted and humorous love song that falls perfectly in step with backwoods music. “Drag Me Down” brings the Brazilian influence back into the picture with hypnotic Latin percussion that beats alongside thought-provoking lyrics set to a catchy melody. This number may be the most enjoyable on The Devil And The Diamond. Throughout the album, this group’s sound dances back and forth between American folk and a one-of-a-kind sort of salsa soundtrack. “Tears” is the perfect example of a salsa-style dance song from this act. Within the track, tons of percussion is incorporated that does not compete, but complements the soft-spoken words of the simple chorus. The Devil And The Diamond does not have a slow moment inside of it, nor does it have a dreary one.
In A Word: Flavorful