Backernalia is Matt Backer’s fifth solo album. Known as one of the finest guitarists for hire, he is also a clever, powerful songwriter. Artists he’s worked with include a 20+ year association with ABC and an even longer one with Julian Lennon; also on the CV – Rumer, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Sir Elton John. Backernalia features a co-write with Martin Fry and guest appearances from Mari Wilson and Sarah-Jane Morris. The album’s out on May 21st.

This remotely recorded, wryly amusing Live From Lockdown Living Rooms video presents an exhilarating version of Billy Boy Arnold’s rhythm and blues masterpiece from 1955, ‘I Wish You Would’, given a new lease of life by David Bowie on Pin Ups. Backer’s version features Sarah-Jane Morris of The Communards on vocals; snappy drumming from regular sticksman Jim Kimberley; and a storming sax solo from Rob Hughes.

Backernalia is multifarious treat packed to the rafters with witty, melodic, and often rocking songs. Of course, Backer’s extraordinary guitar-playing is to the fore. He ranges from acoustic slide blues to crunchy grunge; from jazzy art-rock invention a la Walter Becker or Todd Rundgren, to classy pop eloquence.

It’s no wonder that the New Orleans-born, UK-based Backer has plyed his versatile, often thrilling guitar for a huge variety of artists. This includes a 20+ years stint with pop legends ABC, and a similarly long-term musical relationship with Julian Lennon. Others who’ve benefited from Matt’s mastery include: Rumer, Emmylou Harris, Sir Elton John, Joe Cocker, Sinead O’Connor, Alice Cooper, Marcella Detroit and Aimee Mann. His music has also been used on TV: NCIS, Law and Order and Date My Mom, and film: Domino and Horton Hears A Who.

On Backernalia, Matt’s song-writing has reached maturity, showing both a powerful pop sensibility and a deeper understanding of themes ranging from love and attraction, to politics, via the state of the music industry and the condition of his own soul. If that sounds a little heavy, he explores these subjects with a light touch and a satirical eye: take his excellent cover of Mose Allison’s parodic Middle Class White Boy… Matt is well self-aware.

Other highlights: Backer reinvents the blues for the 21st century on ‘Devil Washed His Hands Of Me’, co-written with Martin Fry – his boss in ABC – and accompanied by a supremely atmospheric video. ‘TMI’, stands for Too Much Information. Accordingly it documents the plethora of facts and fakes that bombard us daily, and the censorship which deprives us of true knowledge. ‘Hooked On Love’ (a duet with Italian songstress Francesca de Bonis), ‘The Eyes Have It’ (with Mari Wilson on bv’s), and the highly amusing ‘Unrequired Love Song’, run the gamut of human attraction from deep companionship, to illicit lust, to maudlin self-pity. While, the  cleverly vitriolic ‘All Kinds Of It’ deserves elevation to the Pantheon of ‘diss’ songs!

The journey is a varied and enthralling one, with hints of the Allman Bros, Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan all filtered through a strong contemporary lens. Ian Shaw’s coherent co-production at Warm Fuzz in Key West helps bind the disparate elements, while the Matt Backer backers – on drums, Randy Morrow and Jim Kimberley; bassist Andy Carr; Rob Hughes on horns – are immaculate throughout. Backer’s previous albums have won awards at the Independent Music Network and scored highly in their charts. Backernalia deserves all these accolades and more.