Matt the Electrician crafts sharp narratives with equal measures heart and home. Evidence: It’s a Beacon, It’s a Bell. The longtime Austin resident’s excellent new album showcases a seasoned songwriter in top form. “Look out the window at the road rushing by,” he sings on the stunning “Muddy Waters”. “The shatterproof glass breaking up in your eyes/Your own private movie where things fall apart/Everyone’s trying to break your heart.” Details whittled from real experience frequently fortify his songs.
“Muddy Waters” backs the claim. Matt dreamed up the song as he drove around Austin with his 12-year-old daughter after a big storm. Water under the Lamar Bridge was brown and green, colors he thought an interesting mix. “Yeah, it’s dirty, Dad,” his daughter said, unimpressed. “Muddy Waters” deftly charts our decidedly varying perceptions at different times in our lives and with age comes an acute awareness that everything moves in cycles. Listen closely. Lessons quickly emerge within the song’s ebb and flow.
Like “Muddy Waters,” Matt’s songs typically mirror his family life and the complexities of living as a touring musician and father, often far from home, on the move and unable to be in touch. Accordingly, It’s a Beacon, It’s a Bell offers several uniquely personal and autobiographical portraits brimming with universal truths.
High watermarks deliver stark snapshots as engaging as enlivening. Sparse landscapes guide the journey. In fact, Matt has wanted to make this stripped-down record, a collection entirely with just guitar and vocals, for some time. These songs simply fit the mood. In some cases, they’re admittedly quieter by nature and comfortable to play without accompaniment and longtime fans certainly will celebrate the evolution.
While Matt has a local band, he tours internationally as a solo act and the most common question he hears on the road: “Hey, which record sounds like what you just did?” Well, It’s a Beacon, It’s a Bell finally offers the answer.