Album Reviews

Matt the Electrician

It's a Beacon It's a Bell

Artist:     Matt the Electrician

Album:     It's a Beacon It's a Bell

Label:     Self Released

Release Date:     2013


I acquired this deceptively simple CD during the Americana Music Festival in September, and am just now—with difficulty—taking it out of rotation. Matt the Electrician pens lovely tunes with hooks that bite deep. In moments of both stress and relaxation, I found lines from his tunes running through my head and dropped whatever I was doing to queue up certain tracks again and again, something I do only with one or two albums a year, out of hundreds.

Matt’s voice has exactly the right amount of raspiness to contrast its underlying sweetness, and his delivery romanticizes neither his lyrics nor the music, although both contain a palpable warmth and purity which other singer/songwriters might dissolve into a sticky-sweet puddle. His note-perfect picking on “Under the Wire,” for example, undoubtedly takes years to perfect, and the upbeat tune could be taken for a children’s song, delivered appropriately for grade-schoolers, if one didn’t listen carefully. The song captures his observations while waiting for a tour bus to pick him up in Denmark, and, like so much of his work, caroms insightfully from one seemingly unrelated subject to another.

Although he does a few duets, most of the album is Matt singing and picking solo, and the songs and his guitar work stand tall without a band behind them, even a falsetto, tongue-in-cheek, a capella elegy to his suitcase. The title tune, a bittersweet love song about lost chances, is delivered without a shred of self-pity and remains one of my favorites, along with “Only For You,” another love song (“I will have nights when I will be lonely only for you”) powerful for its straightforward longing and catchy hook.

With songwriting that compares favorably to Townes Van Zandt and guitar chops reminiscent of John Fahey, Matt the Electrician’s the whole package.

– Suzanne Cadgène

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