Matt O’Ree Band’s Evocative, Long Branch-Recorded ‘Hand in Glove’

The band was back in town. Beloved Jersey Shore favorites, Matt O’Ree Band, hit The Stone Pony stage on May 5 in one of their first official Asbury Park shows since the release of the new album, Hand in Glove. Accompanied by Bon Jovi keyboardist, David Bryan, the band showcased their own rockstar power in the city that’s famous for rearing musical talent.

Matt O’Ree Band keeps good company within this tight-knit music community. In fact, their 2016 album, Brotherhood, featured none other than Greetings from Asbury Park musician Bruce Springsteen. The Boss comes in on the track “Black Boots,” lending his unmistakable vocals along with Matt O’Ree’s. The duo’s collaboration made the catchy, southern-rock-inspired tune a hit. In addition to Springsteen, David Bryan and Steve Cropper (Blues Traveler) also contributed to Brotherhood, proving the MOB’s worthiness for such collaborations. 

Their latest album, Hand in Glove, follows up Live at The Stone Pony and is an MOB evolution rooted within an array of genre-defying songs. In a Fleetwood Mac-ish fashion, Matt O’Ree along with his wife Eryn trade commanding lead vocals on tracks. Layonne Holmes’ extraordinary supporting vocals on songs such as “Walking on the Edge of My Dreams” adds lush harmony to this hard-driving tune among others. This trifecta of experienced vocalists evoke the sentiment of this album beautifully.

On the first track, “Whole Lotta Nothin’,” Matt O’Ree holds nothing back, from his viscerally satisfying guitar work to his seasoned rock vocals. Its intro is nostalgic – dare we say Zepplin-esque – and it only gets better from there. This song offers the band a chance to highlight what it does best by melding together the raw talent of each member. John Hummel’s confident timekeeping shows up in his rhythmically intense, yet controlled, drumming style. Meanwhile, Lex Lehman’s fluent bass lines complement Hummel’s lead as the tandem is the integral foundation for the album’s impassioned tracks. Keyboardist, Matt Wade, provides texture and layers on this album, which artfully solidfies their sound.

“Better As I Go” delivers as an uplifting track with solid rhythm and Eryn’s authentic, soulful vocals cutting through like a blues rock sermon. Matt O’Ree’s sweet phrasings on guitar make this song enjoyable in every sense. Similarly, “I’ll Be Your Shotgun” is energetic and one of those songs that stays with you because it makes you want to move. These tunes are MOB dialed up to 10 with no apologies, allowing each member to bring their talents to the forefront (and the songs appear just as badass on the album as they do live).

Balancing out the rock-heavy tunes on the album are a few introspective, slower tempo songs like the thought-provoking “Can’t Undo,” which gives the listener a memorable melody and chorus to hold onto. The lyrics are hopeful, solidifying the married lead vocalists’ commitment to each other and the music itself. In addition, “This Reality” and “He Loves Me Anyway” prove the band’s ability to tone it down when the song calls for it with their adeptness for nuance as equally impressive as when they rock out full force.

Hand in Glove is a shot of smoky whiskey… neat, seemingly inspired by blues, southern rock, and motorcycle bars, with the homebase of Jersey sound. Ultimately, the album is a cacophony of catchy melodies, reflective songwriting, driving rhythms, and soulful riffs, of course. (See Matt O’Ree win ‘King of the Blues.)

MOB has found its newest groove on this album – and it is the past, present, and future of rock and roll.