The game of love

Having trouble in love? Matthew Kahler would like a few words with you — or at least a few songs. The game of love permeates Kahler's latest CD, Rock, Paper, Scissors — a title that aptly matches the famous children's game. And, much like a complex child, Kahler debuts "It Brings Me Joy to Cause You Pain," a song which, on first listen, seems to draw its power more from a sense of hate than love. In one line, he even muses on sucker-punching a loved one in the gut.

"It's not about violence," says Kahler. "It's a tongue-in-cheek song about responsibility in relationships. What's surprising to me is that women seem to like it more than men."

Rock, Paper, Scissors sounds like what might happen if James Taylor met Stevie Wonder in the studio. Originally conceived as a live album, it contains only one live cut. Since Kahler always delivers soulful, energetic and thoughtful performances that leave audiences raving, a live CD seemed only natural.

With a shrug, the singer/songwriter explains why the live album didn't pan out: "It just didn't work out, which is a shame, 'cause I spent a lot of money and time on it."

The ultimate end product is vintage Kahler — complex, sad, funny, engaging and, finally, made complete with melodic ruminations on the game of love. Sadly, the CD comes with no instruction manual.

Paper wraps rock, right?

Mathew Kahler plays Eddie's Attic Sat., March 6. Two shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. $10.