Last month Evan Phillips from The Whipsaws reached out to me about a local (to him) musician he’d been working with that he thought I’d like.
That musician was Matthew Dean Herman, and Evan was right. Matthew emailed me soon thereafter, and after exchanging a few niceties a copy of his debut cd was Florida bound.
The day that Blackbird arrived I had to take a trip out to my parents house, which is a 40 minute drive, so I decided to take that chance to give the cd a listen. It’s now two weeks later and the cd has not come out of the stereo. I’ve been avoiding writing about the cd since that inevitably means I have to take it out of the cd player to rip it, but other albums are in need of being listened to, so here we are…
I really don’t know too much about Matthew Dean Herman and there is little to be found about him on the internets. He’s an musician from Anchorage, Alaska who also plays with The Jack River Kings (or MDH has morphed into The Jack River Kings…I can’t really tell). Judging from his music, he’s influenced by The Drive-By Truckers and even goes as far as to name drop them in the DBT-esque track, “Soule Lake Hotel” (Hey Matt, “Bulldozers and Dirt” is one of my wife’s favorite tracks as well). Other than that I can’t tell you anything else about the man behind the music, so let’s just talk about the music itself.
The cd opens with one of its strongest tracks, “Blackbird”, a somber acoustic ballad with full band accompaniment. It’s a song about a girl whose father abuses her and the slide guitar in the song does a great job setting the mood and backing Matthew’s vocals. Following “Blackbird” is a more Southern-rock inspired track, “Southern Belle”, which also features the backing vocals of Laura Lee Bishop. The rest of the cd plays out in soundscapes between these two tracks with the only letdown (imo) being “Miryea’s Song”. I feel like an asshole for saying that because I believe the song is for an ex-girlfriend’s daughter, but it’s true.
If you’re a fan of The Whipsaws, The Drive-By Truckers, Centro-matic and music of that ilk (which you are or you wouldn’t be here), then you need to check this cd out. It’s undoubtedly Essential Listening and very well may be a ninebullets Top 10 album of the year.