Matt Nathanson has always been a superb storyteller. Over the course of his career – and the past several years in particular – his songs have been tagged for such high profile network television shows as NCIS, Scrubs, The Vampire Diaries, and The Bachelor among many others. It’s a distinction that’s not to be taken lightly. Naturally then, after recording ten albums in 20 years, with songs that have gained that kind of distinction, Nathanson ought to have reason to feel pretty well assured that he’s hit on a successful formula. Still, he continues to improve, rounding out the rough edges and making music that derives from a more personal point of view. That’s to his credit, making it little wonder then that his latest album, the tellingly titled Show Me Your Fangs, finds him creating a, shall we say, especially biting narrative.
As ominous as that tile seems, Nathanson’s always been at his best when he’s managed to peer out from beneath his guise as a sensitive singer-songwriter. Here again he plays the role of astute observer, a perceptive artist who wryly captures the ironies and absurdities of everyday existence. So while he’s somehow inexplicably eluded wider recognition, Show Me Your Fangs may just help him make his way to the mainstream. The song titles are intriguing in and of themselves, and if “Bill Murray,” “Washington Fight Song,” “Shouting” and “Playlists and Apologies” seem more descriptive than usual in an unlikely kind of way, then so too, the melodies rise to the occasion and deliver the full flourish that’s called for. Indeed, the robust and rebellious “Giants” kicks the album off on a defiant note, providing an assertive and unapologetic delivery that sets the stage for the clarity and confidence Nathanson always exhibits throughout. That same stance is also evident on “Gold in the Summertime,” a sleek, soulful entry with potential to become a new seasonal anthem. At least, let’s hope so.
All in all, Nathanson has made another masterpiece, the sort of thing he seems able to accomplish on an ongoing basis. Spiked with humor, insight, warmth and wisdom, Show Me Your Fangs is that rare album that defines the artist that made it and elevates him to higher standing. Nathanson’s time has finally come, and this is the album that proves it.