Review of 2 Albums -
Songs in the Key of Blue
Reviews by Joseph Timmons: Xombiewoof Magazine
From the start, the music of Matt Pless reminded me of another soft-spoken radical that would, without intention wind up changing the world and the way people think, yet unlike Dylan, Matt Pless would come from a more angst ridden generation, with an ideology that is intertwined with an abundant humor and is uniquely his own. From his bio, Matt is “a musician who can't read music, an artist who can't stand most aspects of the pretentious art community, and a writer who usually has fairly poor grammatical skills” yet his articulation in verse is admirable if not savant.
Combining elements of folk, punk, pop and roots rock, Matt has created in his youth a discography that already rivals most “professionals” with thought-provoking witty lyrics, his music spans topics from love and loss to social commentary, from drug abuse to friendship. Performing in coffee shops, clubs, basements, living rooms and wherever there are people who want to hear his music, Matt Pless and his guitar are at the ready. He books his own tour dates and along the way has managed to share the stage with Maroon 5, Fallout Boy, Ani Difranco, David Amram, Rilo Kiley, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Ghost Mice, Ramshackle Glory, The Queers, Warren Haynes, Ryan Harvey, Bad Brains, and others. A consummate performer with a high energy stage presence, Matt’s universally relatable songs will leave you talking, thinking and dancing in your mind’s dance hall.
When Matt set out for NYC for the first time, he spent his first night playing in the subway for tips. He continued to play for change and added Washington Square Park to his busking list. As a result of his street singing, he was approached for inclusion in “The Noise beneath the Apple”, a book documenting buskers and street performers in New York City. His song, “New York Monday” is featured on the book’s accompanying vinyl compilation. Eventually, his talent led him to play many of the top songwriter venues in the Big Apple, including The Sidewalk Café, Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, Café Vivaldi and The City Winery.
Matt continued to tour relentlessly, supporting Irish folk duo “Heathers”, traveling to Indiana to play at a popular underground punk gathering called “Plan it X Fest”, and spending the bulk of the spring and summer of 2011 broadening his fan base in as many states as he could. Early that fall he ventured to Zuccotti Park in NYC during the Occupy Wall Street protests to play some music there and ended up becoming the impetus behind a benefit compilation cd called Occupy This Album. He contributed his original composition “Something’s Got to Give” to the cd which also included tracks performed by artists like Joan Baez, Crosby and Nash, Debbie Harry, Tom Morello, Thievery Corporation, the Guthrie Family, Yoko Ono, Lucinda Williams, Patti Smith and Willie Nelson, among others. Matt also created the cover art for the album, recognition of his lifelong talent for drawing and the visual arts. In the months that followed, he appeared in national music publications such as Rolling Stone, Grammy.com, Relix magazine, as well as The Huffington Post, interviews in Forbes magazine and an appearance on the Tom Hartman show.
In late February of 2013, Matt released his first 7 inch record on the newly formed Fake Art Records label. This vinyl, soon to be collector’s item (only 300 copies were pressed) included the songs "Dirty Needles' and "Of Love and Loss". Around the same time, a Canadian indie label called “You Look Like Shit” Records released a cassette tape collection of acoustic tracks entitled "Tumbleweed" which we will review, It included alternate versions of some older songs, as well as many new compositions, such as the anthemic crowd favorite "Ashtray" and a melodically dreamy tune called "the Book of You and I". To coincide with these to releases, Matt set out on a 3 month tour of the US that March.
Matt has performed at major festivals such as The Hot August Blues Fest, Clearwater Folk Festival, and Great South Bay Music festival in Long Island New York. He was also chosen as one of 25 New York musicians to be a member of the much sought after slots in MUNY (Music Under New York) subway performance program. He is also one of the featured songwriters in an upcoming independent film about Greenwich Village folk music from the ‘60s through today called “Bleeker and Macdougal”.
Tumbleweed, an all-acoustic tribute to the feeling of limbo, as the cover implies, one is a puppet to another. The songs, with a strong sense of mirth, also have some darker signs that would imply a feeling of loss yet to be, but a hope for a brighter tomorrow anyway. Not a negative or depressing flow of complaints, but a whimsical and upbeat story in 12 parts. Seemingly as if to take a shallow breath between songs, the album is composed perfectly and in perfect order. Each song leading into the next and on to the end a single story that travels many lifetimes in a single voice. Matt Pless is of the new guard, a generation of bards with no loyalties to tradition, yet keep the faith with the virtue of a saint. Whereas Tumbleweed is available at his Bandcamp page for as little as zip, give this man at least a $20, very much worth every penny and if this is the beginning, one can only imagine what he will create tomorrow.
Songs in the Key of Blue is amazing, where Tumbleweed was guitar only acoustic daydreams in verse, Songs in the Key of Blue is a sign of what Matt is capable of with a full entourage backing him up, with the accompaniment of a full band, his words hold an amazing power, bursting with thought provoking message and anger at the direction we are heading, the most powerful of these 60’s fueled rockets of truth is Breadline, every word rings true and the song is remarkably timeless. In fact all of the songs, The Devil May Care, I Hope You’re Happy Now and Barren Grove could be hits in each of their own right, but all 4 together on Songs in the Key of Blue is a grand combination and were meant to be heard.
Songs in the Key of Blue is available on Vinyl on OGC Records and on his Bandcamp Page, you can find all of his Releases, 12 in all, serious fun and serious music from Matt Pless. Follow Matt Pless on Facebook and visit his website http://www.mattpless.com
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