William Matheny – Strange Constellations

From the Misra Records release Strange Constellations the debut album from William Matheny released last week.

The best storytellers often aren’t the ones who have had the wildest experiences; they’re the ones who have experienced things we all have, and can articulate them in a way we haven’t yet figured out ourselves. They give us a new vocabulary for talking about ourselves and our world. That’s the gift William Matheny presents to us.

Matheny, a West Virginia native and longtime keys player for Athens, Ohio, indie heroes Southeast Engine, has broken out on his own with Strange Constellations, his debut 11-song solo collection out February 24, 2017, which might more than anything provoke the question: Why not sooner?

William Matheny would best be classed as a songwriter’s songwriter–the kind of composer who gets the melody just right every time, and the kind of lyricist whose turns of phrase bring an involuntary grin. Once you’ve heard his deft songcraft, you might feel cheated that he withheld it so long.

Strange Constellations came about while Matheny was still plying the trade of a touring musician, supplying piano and organ for someone else’s grand musical plan. “While I found the job creatively fulfilling and I wholeheartedly believed in the creative vision of the band, at some undefined point, I began to feel as if I had something else to say,” he explains.

So he began to sneak off when he had time, often while bandmates slept during the final year of Southeast Engine’s touring life. It was a challenging enterprise, moving back into writing after years in a primarily supporting role. But songs began to coalesce: songs about touring life, about family history, about coincidence and circumstance.

If you weren’t listening to the lyrics of Matheny’s songs, they’d be plenty appealing already: Jackson Browne pop hooks alternate with alt-country tunes that might call to mind Drive-By Truckers. At times, his delivery recalls a twangy Craig Finn. But then, if you weren’t listening to the lyrics, you’d be doing it wrong.

Take, for example, “God’s Left Hand,” the album’s second track. An upbeat country-rocker, it presents a series of vignettes that in a way illustrate the maxim about life happening while you’re busy making other plans. But instead of missing the minutiae while thinking ahead to the next big thing, Matheny’s character is taking in the little challenges of life while waiting on that lucky break–and thinking about what that lucky break may mean in the larger picture.

It’s in the details where Matheny will make true believers. His songs are full of moments that match smart observation with wordplay that’s impressive mostly in its effortlessness. “There’s some laughing Katherine / down at the end of the bar / with some funny Daniel / down at the end of her arm,” he sings in “Blood Moon Singer.” It’s a scene that could take place anywhere, and does, which is Matheny’s point, as he illustrates the blur of touring life. But no one put it quite that way until William Matheny came along.

Storyteller, songwriter–William Matheny is the kind of artist who garners instant respect from other artists, even as he makes songs so effortlessly catchy. We could resent that he didn’t arrive with this collection sooner, but let’s instead celebrate that he’s here with it now.

William Matheny / Facebook / Twitter

Justin Townes Earle – “Maybe A Moment” [Official Video] + UK Dates & Album News



Justin Townes Earle is set to release His New West Records debut Kids in The Street on 26th May. The 12-song set was produced by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit) at his ARC Studios, and is the first time in his career that Earle has worked with an outside producer.

Monday 26 June – The Tunnels – Bristol
Saturday 01 July – Maverick Festival – Suffolk
Tuesday 04 July – Omeara – London

‘Kids In The Street’ marks a decade into Earle’s recording career and follows his acclaimed companion albums Single Mothers and Absent Fathers (2015). The deeply soulful set is both emotionally riveting and effortlessly uplifting. Now embracing sobriety, marriage, and impending fatherhood, Earle is enthusiastically looking to the future. “Life has changed a lot for me in the last few years,” Earle reflects. “I got married and am getting ready to become a father, and this is the first record that I’ve written since I’ve been married. There’s definitely an uplifting aspect to this record in a lot of ways, because I’m feeling pretty positive.” He continues, “When I wrote songs in the past, I was looking in on what I was feeling, but this record’s more about looking outward on what’s happening, and writing about subjects like gentrification and inner city strife. This record also has more of a soul influence to it, and it’s got a deeper connection to the blues than anything I’ve done before.”

‘Kids In the Street’ will be available digitally, as well as compact disc and vinyl. The album is now available for pre-order via PledgeMusic including an exclusive, limited edition colored vinyl version of the LP, special 7” single including ‘Maybe A Moment’ as well as Earle’s reading of Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, and cassette.

Several of the songs on ‘Kids On The Street’ reference the lower-middle-class Nashville neighborhoods of Earle’s youth, which in recent years some say have lost their character to the creeping scourge of gentrification. Significantly, the album is the first of Earle’s not recorded in Nashville. “It’s the first time that I’ve worked outside of my usual umbrella of people to make a record,” Earle explains, adding “In Nashville, if you have the right connections, it’ll spoil the shit out of you, because you’ve got access to the best musicians in the world and the best studios in the world. If you had told me when I started making records, that I wasn’t gonna make every record in Nashville, I would have told you you were crazy. And if you’d told me that I’d end up making a record in Omaha, I’d tell you you were out of your freaking mind”.

Earle’s fierce fidelity to his creative muse has been a consistent thread throughout his young life. Born in Nashville in 1982, he grew up as the son of country-rock iconoclast Steve Earle, who gave him his middle name in honor of his mentor, the brilliant songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Justin quickly came into his own as a songwriter and performer, displaying a natural talent for deeply revealing lyrics that reflected his often-harsh life experiences, and a musical approach that effortlessly integrated elements of blues, folk, and country. His 2007 debut EP Yuma set the stage for a steady stream of acclaimed albums.

Leeroy Stagger – Love Versus



I’m a little late getting to this but Leeroy Stagger released a great new album last month, Love Versus came out via True North Records on April the 7th – more info.

Stagger has a knack for a sad melody and the songs on this record flow from glass 1/2 empty to glass 1/2 full; the themes are familiar but have an elusive resonance, they’re reflections of life’s up and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly, sometimes all we need is someone singing our life back to us * and Leeroy Stagger does that exceptionally well.



Leeroy Stagger / Facebook / Twitter



* Neko Case

Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure

Daniel Romano will release his seventh solo album in as many years this week via his own You’ve Changed Records in Canada and New West elsewhere; the prolific singer-songwriter continues to surprise and delight listeners in equal measure with each new release and this one is no exception.

His latest offering is the most eclectic yet and one that takes the listener on a postmodern genre meandering ride, weaving together elements of country suffused retro-rock, indie and psychedelia.

Modern Pressure represents his most accomplished recording to-date, a sum of it’s parts, writing playing and production, for me it’s one of 2017 benchmark recordings – highly recommended.


“’Roya’ is a celebration of women. Roya’ is to represent the femininity in nature and the universal She. This is a devotional memoir pertaining to the strength, endurance, spirit, and godlike gravity of our mothers, sisters, lovers, and friends.”

Daniel Romano / Facebook / Twitter

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