By Ryan Scott
Have you ever found yourself listening to some classic American singer-songwriter inspired modern rock and thought to yourself “Ya know, this could really use some Indian flare?” Well, you’re in luck, because Ajay Mathur’s latest album 9 To 3 just might be for you.
Mathur was born in India and began his music career outside the states, but was very clearly inspired by some of America’s most notorious singer-songwriters such as Tom Petty and Jackson Browne, but his latest release is truly a sprawling hot mess of various inspiration poured out over fifteen tracks.
The single "My World (SOS TO THE UNIVERSE)" has been getting some airplay in and outside the states (looking at you, Netherlands), so it is totally possible that even though Mathur hasn’t exactly blown up, you may very well have heard of him. The single does as good a job as anything could of trying to give listeners a good idea of what they may be in for should they pop on 9 To 3 in its entirety, but it is a very (for lack of a less grandiose term) diverse album.
“My World” has Mathur’s politically charged message on full display, but it can be a bit too in your face at times and unfortunately can come off as even a bit preachy. That being said, his message is pretty often an agreeable one, but most music listeners (me included) don’t like to feel as though they are being preached to.
Mathur is a very well traveled man and 9 To 3 sounds like a very well traveled album. One moment you will be listening to a 60’s style rock track (“Nothing Really Matters”) with traditional Indian instruments, and the next you will be listening to a straight out of the 80’s pop power ballad (“Tell Me Why”). It is almost jarring, but endlessly interesting.
It is a little hard to imagine that anyone could listen to this album all of the way through without being put off by at least one or two tracks. That isn’t necessarily a knock on Mathur’s approach, but there is just so much influence and so many different types of music explored on 9 To 3 that you are eventually going to run into a genre that isn’t your favorite. Though, it is impressive that Mahtur was able to cover so much ground.
The only potential downside in covering so much ground is that no one sound ever gets totally fleshed out. Mathur is trying to do an awful lot and accomplishes it, but if he had narrowed his focus just a touch one can't help but wonder if this could have been a focused album full of ten great songs instead of an album of fifteen good and okay songs.
In any case, Mathur is trying to do something a bit different than just your typical Americana inspired modern rock, and it is an admirable pursuit. 9 To 3 is out now on CD and most major digital music stores. You can find Mather on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp or his official website.