Jay Mathes – Fundamental

I have to hand it to local singer-songwriter Jay Mathes, the man is passionate about his craft. After playing around but not taking things too seriously, he quit his job giving private guitar lessons to follow his dream of making and playing music for a living. It was a bold move, and one that will take time to pay off. He believes in himself and his talent, and he has a faithful following.

Listening to this release by Mathes, I was surprised how much his voice at times reminds me of Jay Farrar. It also reminds me of Will Loyal of Homemade Knives. There’s a deep bassiness that gives the feeling of being in a small room with the lights out, which I think was kind of the feeling Jay was going for when he decided to record the album live with just a guitar and his voice.

As I was listening to Fundamental, and enjoying it a little, I started to get a sinking feeling. You know the one…it’s the feeling you get when you’re watching TV late at night and that commercial for the Songs of Worship album comes on. That feeling you have in the time it takes you to reach the remote and flip the channel really quick. Yeah. That’s the one.

In an interview that Jay gave to the Sun-Times, he said he doesn’t consider his music to be Christian Rock. If you don’t consider it to be that, I really don’t know how you consider it at all. Every song has some sort of religious symbolism or overt message.

And I’m ok with that. I view music a lot like Roger Ebert views movies…it isn’t WHAT the movie/song is about, it’s HOW it is about it. If the music is done well, then the message doesn’t matter so much to me.

Unfortunately, Fundamental is a bit long on message and a little short on melody. The album does live up to it’s name, though. The chords are basic, and the song structure follows the same formula you would find in most adult contemporary pop music. The whole thing kind of sounds like a demo session for the first Matchbox Twenty (20?) album (or, probably more accurately, the first Creed album).

For all the things I don’t like about Fundamental, I still find some redeeming qualities in it. There’s something to be said for someone laying their soul bare and putting everything out there.

Whether you and I agree with what Jay Mathes is singing about, he’s giving it his all, and I admire that.


  • Jay Mathes is a lifelong Chicagoan
  • Fundamental was released on January 21, 2011. It is available for download on iTunes
  • Jay will be playing a free show in Elmhurst, IL on March 19th at Cuvee Cellars

About joshterzino

Thank you, Chicago. Your population is as kind and warmhearted as I could hope for in a metropolis. The music, the food, the parks...it's everything a person could possibly want in a city they call home. I will forever be in your debt, Chicago. Let me know if you ever need anything.
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