Matthew Davidson, Cross My Heart (Magnet Music)

Matthew Davidson, Cross My Heart, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, June 2014

There are certain expectations placed on a 14-year-old when he wins the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation New Generation Award. Matthew Davidson did just that, and with the release of Cross My Heart he is coming into his own but is not bound to Johnson’s barebones blues legacy.

Davidson shows his age and tastes with a very pop-radio ready, five-song album that includes two bluesy numbers. At 16, who can fault him for succumbing to the tastes of his peers? At least he does it with well-written originals.

Davidson’s voice still has room to grow—you won’t confuse him with Howlin’ Wolf anytime soon—but his songwriting skills are ahead of his age. “Diamond Ring” shows off roadhouse-blues style from his opening guitar riff. Even with his juice box voice, lines likes “Let me buy you a diamond ring, Just take your pick, What will it be?, We got 13 karats of misery” has balls. “Overseas” also has strong rock blues tendencies and shows his teeth will grow in soon enough. “One More Beautiful Thing” with it’s “I like you and you like me,” sentiments has a sweetness similar to the Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It be Nice?”

The first two tracks, “Read my Mind” and “Heartbreaker” are more mired in a pop aesthetic but well-written and performed even better. Davidson’s diversity and willingness to venture out of the blues mold he was cast into will serve him well as he matures.

If songs like “Overseas” and “Diamond Ring” are indicators, under the right guidance (and if he drinks his milk), Davidson could grow into yet another Shreveport blues master.