Written by Jessica Klausing
Returning with his newest release, Between the Bars, Matt York beckons listeners to pull up a bar stool for some drunken wisdom. Filled with the country spirit, the rhythms burst with driving guitars, saloon-esque pianos, and a brooding horn section. These songs convey the heartache of life and relationships gone wrong.
Opening the album is “All Over the Town,” which thrives on a pulsing guitar melody. The song deals with the aftermath of a failed relationship. You know, the kind when the whole town seems to want to gossip about it? It’s one of the more surprisingly upbeat tunes on the album even with the lyric, “You’ve gone out and changed your mind/I don’t know how I’ve survived.”
“Honkytonk Hangover” waltzes you through the doors of a 1950’s Bakersfield saloon. This old school country ballad surges with powerful energy, exploring the despair that even though life is full of regrets, it’s too late to turn back. York reflects this with, “Introduced my sadness to a beer/No one likes me here at the honkytonk/but I don’t feel alone when I’m here.” With a lively organ solo, a feathery piano waltz, and an infectious upbeat tempo, the track challenges our perceptions of resilience while employing self-loathing.
Next is “When the War Began,” an emotive break up song that centers around a toxic romance. For anyone that has had to face rejection, the lyric, “Yeah, there’s never a nice way to say you’re not the one,” is uncomfortably relatable. York’s vocals may be carefree, but his lyrics bring a sense of pain that’s all too real. The contemplative guitar and intensity of the organ in the latter half support the melody's bluesy edge.
Matthew Girard’s beautiful yet mournful trumpet solo stands out in “September’s Coming Soon,” where York’s vocals soar over the nimble Spanish guitar. “Man Who Does Nothing” is a wistful rumination from a man that just can’t get his life together. The acoustic guitar elevates its appeal. “Calling for You” closes out the album with ethereal vocals that reveal a storm of emotion.
Matt York demonstrates with this album a real knack for guitar playing and a suburb use of words as a songwriter. Between the Bars explores with lush instrumentation the inner madness of a resilient soul. The character may not have things figured out but he's still trying somehow.
Between the Bars will be available on November 3rd. You can purchase the album on Matt York's Bandcamp page.
Matt York will perform a special album release show on November 3rd at the Atwoods Tavern in Cambridge, MA.
Recommended Tracks: “All Over the Town,” “Honkytonk Hangover,” “When the War Began,” and “September’s Coming Soon”