Matthew Logan Vasquez is all grown up. The Delta Spirit frontman is continuing his journey as a solo artist, following up last year’s Solicitor Returns with his newest release, Does What He Wants. Vasquez explores the next phase of his life on Does What He Wants, while still maintaining that rambunctious spontaneity we’ve come to know and love both in his work with Delta Spirit and on his own. Does What He Wants finds Vasquez having some fun aesthetically, mixing sonic influences like Harry Nilsson quirk-pop with his signature stadium-size, anthemic rock and roll.
Vasquez and his wife became parents just a few years ago, and Does What He Wants is, in many ways, a meditation on domestic life, the good parts and the bad. “House Full of Music” is a glittering song about love and death, beginning with a wedding, then building a life together, and finally a gospel-tinged finale of epic proportions wherein the narrator dies. It’s a dramatic song that doesn’t take itself too seriously, particularly as it ends with a long stretch of white noise until a door squeaks open and we hear “flip over the record.”
“Fatherhood”, the gem of Does What He Wants, is a sweet song about maturing. Vasquez waxes about the changes that come with becoming a parent, but never gets too saccharine or melodramatic. “The selfish phase has faded out/Please can I stick around?/All the joyful steps we took/Leading up to fatherhood,” he sings, his harmonies flooded with emotion. He remembers the difficulty of paying hospital bills, as he watches his son grow bigger and as he tries to be the best dad he can be. It is a soft, soulful take on the classic struggle of being an artist while also trying to lead a practical life, a conundrum Vasquez captures poignantly.
Does What He Wants is a bit all over the map, but it is also some of Vasquez’s most sophisticated work as a songwriter yet. Vocally, he has hit his stride, and he sounds his best on this record. Vasquez explores his Chicano roots on “Fires Down in Mexico”, but finds a folksier pace with “Tall Man”. On “Same”, he joins with Kam Franklin (The Suffers) on a fiery, soul rocker about being broke, and “Red Fish” is his kooky, Nilsson-esque trippy pop song.
Vasquez is up against a lot in these songs, candidly letting us in on his deeply personal challenges and hardships. He has proven himself a prolific songwriter, and Does What He Wants is yet another strong outing.