Unfortunately for Walter Martin, dream collaborator Randy Newman is not into hand claps. When Martin, a multi-instrumentalist best known as former bassist for the Walkmen, started work on a follow-up to his star-studded 2014 children’s album We’re All Young Together, he enlisted Newman for help — or so he tells us on new track “Hey Matt.” But when he never heard back from Newman, the encounter (or lack thereof) became woven into a charming anecdote at the tail end of the new track.
The National’s Matt Berninger lends vocals to the song instead, and the two break character to hypothesize Newman’s disinterest in the project (“maybe he thought my organ playing was too flashy, or maybe he’s not into hand claps,” Martin jokes). Whatever the case, it’s great to see Martin and Berninger team up for another spirited and quirky track. The two friends first shared vocal duties on We’re All Young Together’s “We Like The Zoo (Cause We’re Animals Too).”
On “Hey Matt,” the duo move on from their days of animal impressions and explore what elements make for a good song. Martin confides in Berninger as he teaches him how to sing over a mellow, doo-wopy arrangement and the two “practice” hitting notes in a back and forth series of oh’s and ah’s. The results are delightful. As we even saw on his more serious solo release, 2016’s Arts + Leisure, Martin’s music has a knack for bustling with life, and this new material is no different, filled to the brim with a contagious, upbeat energy. Listen below.
Here’s what Martin wrote about the song:
I’ll never forget being a kid listening to Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days on long family car trips. I’d be lying in the nauseating back seat of our minivan transfixed by the warmth and humor of his stories. And up in the front my parents would be experiencing the exact same thing. My goal with this album is to induce that same kind of wonderful family hypnosis.
I want people to recognize something very human on the other end of their little earbuds, so I put a lot of my unvarnished self in my songs. I want people to recognize someone who talks like them and has flaws like them and who thinks absurd thoughts like them.
My Kinda Music is out 5/5.