Usually when I sit down to write an article, it’s within a week of my first listen of an artist or their most recent record. That’s not the case with Matt York, I’ve let him ferment for months, waiting for the right time to spill the beans on one of Boston’s best troubadours. Taking my time has turned out to be a blessing; I’ve had the chance to get to know Matt a bit, meet his family, and see him belt it live at one of my favorite venues. As he gears up to record his next album we discussed the past, present, and future of this family man making an impressive run at the fabled world of music.
After a friend turned me onto him, Matt and I talked via email as I got to know his music, and it turns out he’s a hell of a nice guy. We hatched a plan to delay an article in favor of first seeing him live at The Music Loft in Portsmouth, NH, a venue my wife and I both love. We had the pleasure of watching a 45-minute set of man and guitar, the way songwriter tunes are meant to be heard. Matt’s voice has two distinct ranges; a gravely story-teller side and a harmonious howl that is so far from the former that it could be mistaken for someone else singing, it makes for an enjoyable departure within the songs it emerges.
Over the years I have learned that I tend to be attracted to music that is genre-defying, and Matt fits that bill well. Just when I think I have his style nailed down, the next song throws me for a loop musically or lyrically. We spoke at length about the ways that can help and hurt an artist, and how he is going to make the music he’s inclined to create, rather than doing it to fit in someone else’s idea of what it should be. I commend him for that, and that’s one of the many reasons I enjoy his style; he’s doing it his way, but he’s not smug about it.
Matt’s recent music often lends itself to the point-of-view of another, the look of the world through another person’s eyes. It can be both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. The subjects of these songs are fictional, but they are so many people around us, more than most would ever realize. It takes some guts to take that approach, but there is a story to be told here, and Matt does it well.
Matt and I talked for some time, but here is what was most relevant:
What would you call your style of music? I hear some country, some heavier guitar, and recently some darker (Though very timely) tones in the lyrics. What do you call it?
I'm really genre-less. What I listen to most is Americana and Outlaw Country. My heroes are the Steve Earle's, Townes Van Zandt's and Bill Joe Shavers' of the world. I love songwriters and great songs and that's what I try and make. When I try and sound like a specific style, it never seems to work. It's helped me in some ways but also hinders me as well. When I was younger, I was also somewhat genre-less but we were a noisy indie rock band so it was easier to get on bills with bands that were somewhat like-minded.
You were once active in the Boston music scene, then took over a decade off. You jumped back in a few years back, and things seems to be rolling along nicely. The show I attended, you were an opener, and I have no doubt you had just as many folks in attendance as the main act (Maybe More). How are things progressing?
It's a slog and it always is. When I was younger, the Boston scene was more vibrant and I also had a lot more friends that were younger and up for staying out late hitting the clubs. More recently, I've received some really great press and had the opportunity to play some great shows. I think my willingness to play as many different random places as possible has helped me some. You have great nights (like the night you came to see me) and you have nights when you are just playing to a bunch of tables and chairs.
On Tuesday at 9PM you have a Facebook Live feed broadcasting for 1950 clothing company; how did that come about, and what can we expect?
I had somehow stumbled upon their Facebook page a while back. They began doing shows on their page earlier this year and I just reached out. I did one of them for the Outlaw Resurgence page last year as well. 1950 Clothing Company's shows have been more geared to outlaw country, so I'll probably do the twangier tunes I've got and also work in a few Waylon and Willie tunes. It'll just be solo acoustic. I like the idea of reaching people in far-flung places that might not otherwise ever learn about me. I also have a lot of friends/fans that would come out to see me more but they're just busy with life so for them to be able to watch me on their phone or sitting on their couch is kinda cool.
-What’s in the works for 2018?
I've got ten songs ready to record. I've met with a couple of studios and am nailing down where I'm going to record, hopefully will do that this spring. I've got some great shows lined up for later this spring and summer, so things look like they'll be busy.
There you have it; Matt York is the genre-less singing nomad of New England and beyond, seeing the world through the eyes of the unseen. Matt’s previous albums ‘Between The Bars’ and ‘Boston, Texas’ are available on Spotify, they are a mix of many different sounds that somehow work well together, creating a sound all his own. I’ll keep you posted on the new album when it drops; I’ve heard many of the tunes going on it, it’s going to be a can’t-miss.
If you have some time, Matt will be streaming a Facebook Live solo show for 1950 Clothing Company at 9PM EST on Tuesday, 3/27/18. **LINK HERE** This is a great chance to check out the quality of his music, his songwriting, and perhaps a sample of some of the songs from his upcoming album.
Find out more about Matt York at: www.mattyorkmusic.com
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