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  • Jonathan Widran


In previous writings about the extraordinarily multi-faceted Matthew Shell’s work as an artist, composer, engineer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, I’ve pretty much exhausted all the cool adjectives related to diversity and adaptability. Suffice to say that over the past few years, he’s made an enormous impact on numerous instrumental music genres – including ambient/new age, global fusion and contemporary urban jazz. One of the most joyful aspects of following his career is wondering where and with who he will be sharing his multitude of gifts next.

While no doubt he’s working on countless projects with others in 2023, We’ll Find a Way II: The Chill Afrobeat Album - his dynamic collaboration with his longtime friend, business partner and multi-talented musical creative Kenny McNeil - is one of the most exciting, sonically rich and adventurous ever. The upcoming album showcases a uniquely intuitive, conversational dynamic between Matthew’s ever-exploratory and adventurous electric guitar mastery and the Maui based Kenny’s multitude of skills as a producer, singer and songwriter.

While the full unveiling of the collection is thus far reserved for those “very special” people with access to their private page, the duo is sharing individual hypnotic slices of their overall magic via a series of lead singles – all of which are centered around a provocative theme. Released in April, “sJazzy Lil Jane II (Chill Afrobeat)” was a laid back tune whose island grooves, dreamlike atmospheres and trippy textures presented the concept of being wise, savvy and street smart in a dangerous world.

If we saw a title like “I Want to Be Rich II” – Shell and McNeil’s equally tasty follow-up single – in a hip-hop context, we might be inclined to think about superficial things like fabulous material wealth and shiny bling. Yet that’s 180 degrees away from the kinds of riches they’re illuminating on their jazzy, infectiously exotic excursion.

As they explain it, the song itself is “rich with all the elements of peace and serenity that will leave the listener wanting more.” On a deeper, more spiritual level, the overriding vibe is that true, enduring wealth is all in the heart. It comes from a meaningful commitment to family and quality relationships. While they want listeners to ponder these thoughts as they apply to their own lives, Shell and McNeil clearly manifest the kind of impactful musical chemistry that can result when two artists are mutually committed to their vision.

“I Want to Be Rich II” begins with a lively percussion pattern behind a swirl of a playful synth motif and Kenny’s breathy, soulful and echoing vocals, which open the door for Matthew’s crisp, melodic and free flowing guitar lines backed by distant synth horn accents. Just as the groove, guitar and brass heat up, they ease back down to the tune’s core flow, fusing beats, licks, the jungly synth motif and Kenny’s silky vocals to intoxicating effect. As the track continues, the horns catch fire again and Matthew displays a bit more of his rock-jazz aesthetic and improvisational jazz virtuosity.

Shell and McNeil will follow this stunning track with the August release of the project’s next lead single, “Identity II.” It’s a blast watching listening to the process unfold!

You can check out "I Want to Be Rich II" in a unique collaboration with artist Diana Pigni, who brings her Ballerina oil painting to life with the mesmerizing song serving as her muse and soundtrack. Please see the above video or visit: Diana Pigni | Artist | Oil Canvas Paintings on Instagram: “Looking for some inspiration and creativity in your life? Check out this amazing collaboration reel between three talented artists of music…”


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