Stan Matthews has been holding it down for classic country in the Worcester area for ages now, but with “Bad,” he digs into his outlaw country roots and comes up with a winner. The song – which was recorded at Wachusett Recording Studio in Princeton and released by Aldora Britain Records in the UK – takes full-advantage of Matthews' low-rumbling thunder vocals, but backs him up with some first-rate musicianship and backing vocals, giving his baritone some contrast.
“Like a dog coming home,” growls Matthews, to a patient and evocative blues beat, “with his tail between his legs/I know I've done bad/I know I'll have to beg/beg for forgiveness/for the sadness I did create.”
Matthews takes his time with the vocals, letting each line mosey at a leisurely pace, which gives the lyrics a sort of intensity. The pacing – abetted particularly by Michael Harmon, here playing percussion and bass – is what gives the song its grind, whereas Bob Sarkala's lead guitar, Bryce Kanzer's organ and Erina Seitllari's backing vocals fill out the sound and give it depth.
Really, though, this is Matthews' show, and the best tradition of Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, he digs deep into culpability and self-awareness to present a picture that's flawed, human and eminently relatable.
“Every time I try to show,” sings Matthews, “that I won't do no wrong/I end up sticking my foot in my mouth/and singing a sad, sad song.”
In the end, he admits that “If I were good all the time/I'd be boring/ain't it the truth?” There's a a bit of a wicked grin in his phrasing of the lyric, and it's true: This might be, at its core, a simple little song, but it's certainly not boring. Indeed, it's a lot of fun.