***Newport Folk Festival Preview***
We met up with Matthew before his show at Barboza in Seattle for a very quick session that ended abruptly with an employee changing the bags in a trash can. Unpredictability is the beauty of doing impromptu, on site sessions. Matthew was very gracious and offered a bit of comedic relief during the songs “Personal” and “Halfcolt.”
The chorus for Matthew Logan Vasquez’s “Personal” sounds a bit like a Delta Spirit tune, with its sustained chords and thrashing guitars. But it’s chorus sounds, well, personal.
“Don’t you get it? It’s not personal. / I gotta strike out on my own,” he sings on his new record, Solicitor Returns (out now on Devil Duck Records).
Armchair psychiatrists could read into that as a portrait of an artist staking out a solo career in spite of popular success with his band. But as it turns out, the guy just writes a crazy amount of songs.
“We take Delta Spirit records really seriously, where we rebuild the wheel every time. We really want to make sure the next record is great,” he told NPR. “I’ve wrote all these other songs I’m extremely passionate about and had to release. The guys understood and they’re very nice to let me do it.”
With so much material to choose from, the album is surprisingly tight, nimble if a bit restless. The 10-track record is stacked with catchy tunes and crisp guitar, broaching a wide range of topics and timbre. “Everything I Do Is Out” is a grungy, sweaty stomp on what it means to be out of step with what’s cool. “I Bet It All” is a countrified Beatles B-side while “Bound to Her” smolders like a true-crime confession, sort of a sonic Nashville-meets-noir.
The constant amidst the swirling stacks of riffs remains Vasquez and his piercing voice. It might be his best instrument, which is saying something as Vasquez played nearly every instrument on the record. Passionate, fiery, with just the right amount of fray, it’s Vasquez’s voice that propels the records in its brightest moments like the eerie atmospheric album closer “Muerte Tranquila” and the aforementioned
“Personal”. Long a hallmark of Delta Spirit and Middle Brother’s finest moments, turns out it’s just as good on it’s own.
Photo/video by Adam Richert
Words by Brian Hodge