I admit that until I watched Indigenous perform their blistering interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hear My Train A’ Comin” on the Experience Hendrix DVD, I had no idea who they were. So with my interest well and truly pricked, I bought myself a copy of Chasing the Sun, and I’m glad to say I did. Now one of the most immediate things which takes the listener aback is how lead singer and guitarist Mato Nanji’s technique resembles that of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Not only the voice but also the way he plays his instrument.
Opener “Runaway” has Vaughan written all over it, from the crunching chords, to the vocal delivery. Even the tone is reminiscent of Vaughan, to the extent that Mato is merely replicating “Change It”, from Soul to Soul. “I’ll Be Waiting” has a Doyle Bramhall II aspect to it, although Mato’s voice is a little stronger. The song itself is constructed around a simple though heavy bluesy riff, tough enough to please even the roughest of bikies. “Number Nine Train” is pretty much your standard upbeat-blues, replete with a Thomas the Tank Engine rhythm section, the sort of thing most modern ears would immediately shy away from, except the song is saved by some superb guitar.
The album slows down with “Come On Home”, a fairly generic blues-ballad except for the fact that Mato obviously means every note, and I’m not just referring to his singing. The opening riffs to “Fool Me Again” are clearly Hendrix inspired, but that’s okay, because as far as I’m concerned, it’s fascinating to hear all the little subtle references some guitarists make with regards to the Maestro himself.
“Feel Alright Now” sounds like an outtake off “In Step”, Vaughan’s last studio album. One thing’s for sure, Mato really has the whole tone and playing style of Vaughan nailed down in a way few guitarists have. “The Way You Shake” has Stevie Ray written all over it, but in the best possible way. Clearly this man has done his homework. The instrumental “Out of Nowhere” is basically a rewrite of “Mary had a Little Lamb”, by Buddy Guy via Vaughan’s own interpretation some decades later, so nothing new going on here. Still you won’t find me complaining.
On “Leaving” Mato does his best to channel Hendrix but winds up sounding like Robin Trower circa early 1970’s. Nevertheless he does more than a decent job at replicating a bit of that Band of Gypsys vibe and spirit.
Last track “Born In Time” sees Mato wearing his heart on his guitar. And while it’s hardly brilliant, at least as far as the composition is concerned, he more than makes up for it in his playing.
Chasing the Sun is not about innovation or keeping up with the latest technological developments. What you hear on this album is pretty much what you get; essentially tough, no frills blues-rock with a slice of psychedelic instrumentation added for good measure. And while the Stevie Ray Vaughan influences are obvious throughout, one cannot say that Mato isn’t honest in his approach, nor dispassionate about how he plays. The fact that Hendrix himself was part Cherokee, merely adds to the musical thread of what Mato, as an Native American as well, seeks to add to that rich fabric.