My writing has been music heavy the last few days, because I am inspired and amazed by the music I heard during SXSW.
I first saw Matt the Electrician play a house show in Dallas, TX sometime back in the somewhat early 2000’s. He was playing to small crowd of swooning women and he seemed uncomfortable in the role of heartthrob.
I felt a bit sorry for Matt that night and watched him uncomfortably walk the tight rope of having conversations with these girls, but keeping his distance at the same time.
It was not your typical house show. There were jello shots and lots of loud drunk girl conversations you would typically hear at your local hipster dance club at 2am.
Matt was still a bit green, but his entertaining nature made up for it. That show planted a seed in my brain. The seed, “keep an eye on Matt the Electrician”.
With each CD that came out, I would make it a point to get it and spin it. None of them really kept my attention. I could never really figure out why. They are good songs, the recordings are good, there was just something there that kept me from giving each one of them more than two or three spins.
At some point I attributed it to Matt not really knowing who he was as an artist, although I was never truly convinced of that. Matt’s kinda country, kinda folk, kinda pop, kinda Americana, kinda comical. It was not until recently when I went back and revisited his catalog that my opinion changed. It seems it was not so much that Matt did not know who he was as a songwriter, but that I did not know who I was as a listener.
Months prior to Matt’s newest record (Animal Boy) coming out, I made a point to see him live three or four times. His songs were really sticking with me after the shows and I was looking forward to which songs would appear on his new record.
The record starts off with horns and thundering drums and then peacefully goes into a beautiful version of Journeys’ “Faithfully”, on either banjolele or tenor guitar.
My initial run through it was in a distracting setting. It took me a couple of weeks to get back to a second listen. The second time I really liked it but was not really drawn in. On the third and fourth listen I was completely hooked.
What first stood out to me was that the record is more pop than it is folk, but it’s often both at the same time. Songs like, “Bridge to no where” and “Permanent record” are quite a departure from folk music, but songs like, “Got your back” and “College” balance both folk and pop beautifully.
A stand out track is, “Divided by thirteen” in which Matt delivers a song entirely in falsetto. The first line sucks you in immediately, “twenty-five thousand, six hundred, thirty-six, divided by thirteen is the year that you were born. I needed a calculator to figure out the time I have wasted every year since you were born”.
My favorite track today however is, “For Angela”. I will let the video below speak for that song.
There are plenty of interesting textures on this record. Matt is credited with playing vocals, acoustic guitar, banjolele, tenor guitar, electric guitar, baritone guitar, bass guitar, vox jaguar organ, wurlitzer organ, piano, toy piano, xylophone, drums, cajon, percussion, frying pans, jaw harp, trumpet, euphonium, whistling, gym whistle and clapping to give you an idea of the level of textures and sounds on this record.
It is a wonderful record by an amazing songwriter and we are lucky to have Matt the Electrician on this planet along with us.