He received his first guitar as a Christmas gift, and along with a piano received a year later, began developing his own musical style - a blend of folk and rock that sounded like what Matt now describes as "the strange love child of a Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen and Tori Amos." He began booking gigs in his hometown area performing acoustic covers and captivating the unsuspecting crowds with his earthy-but-not-earthbound, alarmingly expressive voice. It was throughout the months during and after the slow breakdown of a long-term relationship that Matt discovered his own songwriting abilities. He spent a year's worth of late nights crafting the melancholy epics that would become his first album, Songs About Real Live Girls. The songs touched on a one-night fling in New York City and a budding relationship with an ultimately unavailable lover. One song even exorcised personal demons from Matt's father, who died several years earlier when Matt was only twelve.
For the most part, however, the songs came from a deeply wounded, though not entirely broken heart at the end of a long emotional journey. Recorded in one night and using only a guitar and a piano, Songs About Real Live Girls is nonetheless a surprisingly textured soundscape. Anything but trite or banal, the lyrics are sharp, clever, and direct and the melodies are memorable without sounding forced or intentionally "hooky." Matt's powerful but heartbreaking voice enhances, but never threatens to steal the attention from his truthful and sometimes painful musings on love and loss. Releasing a new record little more than a year after his first album and turning to themes of addiction and isolation, the young writer became more at home among his words and began using his voice as an even more acrobatic and expressive instrument. On The Places You Don't Know Are There, Matt relied more on his rumbling, somewhat schizophrenic piano playing than before, but the nimble, percussive strumming of his trusty acoustic guitar still appeared on half the tracks.
The music (of which Matt played every note himself) became more fleshed out: eerie accordion in "Don't Make a Sound," lush synth strings in "You Said," and even a haunting pump organ in the background of the stark and slowly breathing "Burgundy and Black." The cast of characters was varied as well. On this record, Matt played his familiar role of wounded lover ("I guess you'll keep your secrets and I guess you'll never tell/ but I know you'd like me better if you didn't know me well"), but also fell victim to the mental breakdown ("Even the moon is hiding from me/sometimes the dark is the best place to see/I'm not okay") and stepped into the shoes of the emotional vampire ("I could tell you somethings to make you run/but I'll keep my mouth shut and we'll have some fun"). When he took the stage in an opening slot for friend and folk darling Antje Duvekot at Boston's Johnny D's this summer, Matt described the record as, "a series of lovingly detailed portraits of dysfunctional characters. .
. " and before strumming the first chord of "Don't Make a Sound", he added, "This particular dysfunctional character is me." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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