Grimm Reality Volume 1 - the first of a whole big megillah
Three years in the making, the first volume of my "career retrospective" project is out as of NOW on CDbaby, featuring songs selected by friends and fans who helped bankroll my last album Songs In the Key of Your Face. Grimm Reality Volume 1 collects nine new versions of works drawn from a library running from The Hangdogs' debut EP Same Old Story (1996) all the way through my second solo album The Ghost of Rock & Roll (2009). The first of what will be a three-record set, Volume 1 is is designated as the minimalist record, with all tracks rendered primarily with acoustic instruments and limited "band" instrumentation.
For those of you guys who have seen me live any time recently, this was an attempt to capture at a bit of the "re-imagining" and re-realizing you do when you strip your songs down to their most basic elements, a guitar and a voice. As you probably know, I'm a rock guy, I like stuff loud with a big fat bass and a snare hit like the wrath of god. That's still my love and often how I hear songs when I write them, but on those rare times when I go out and play anymore in the handful of places that'll still book me, I don't play that way. These days, it's just me and a guitar. And the more I've done that, the more the older songs have, like water, sort of found their level.
I saw Dave Alvin do a thing like this years ago and, when he came to the Bottom Line in New York, he said something that kind of came back into my head when I veered off along this path. He said that, when it came down to just you and the songs, the songs became new things all over again, that lyrics he wrote that had become rote over the years took on new meaning when you hit them in different ways — sort of like rediscovering a thing that's already there. I love that idea. And I saw/heard/felt it happen with my own songs.
Another fun part of stripping everything down is having a ton more space in which to play with parts, and one of the coolest aspects of that was recording for the first time in a lot of years with my old partner from the Hangdogs days, Slim Simon, who did a bunch of lead and steel work on this thing. Another amazing talent you'll hear in Volume 1 is Hannah Drollinger, the Bohemian Fiddler of Iowa renown, who did some beautiful violin parts on songs like "St. Claire of Cedar Rapids" and "One Big Union." And you can even hear the voice of one of my "exec producers," Danielle Boiardi, singing backup on "St. Claire."
I should also note that this lovely record cover and the art for the entire project is the work of my favorite living fine-artist, the immaculate living-breathing muse, hotshot photog and synesthete, Ms. Brandy Gale, whose work you can see at her website.
This record is ONLY available digitally for now, but I'll be releasing a hardcopy in a three-disc set once all three volumes are ready to go. Volume 2, out later this year, will continue the revision process, but I'll start building the band a bit, with a few electric guitars and the reintroduction of some big beats; and Volume 3 will just go hog fucking wild stylistically, which I know some people hate, but my exec producers signed off on the different takes and, more than anything, it was fun as hell to do. Both V2 and V3 will include new songs as well, so stay tuned for those.
Thanks to anybody who's given a shit this far. I'd say the only reason I keep doing this is for you, but the truth is, the only reason I keep doing it is because art is what makes us alive, and good effing god it is fun to make things, even if it's making new things out of old things. But lord knows "artists" have their share of insecurities, so any validation sure as hell helps. So, seriously, thanks.
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My name is Matthew. As some of you know, I write songs and stories. I'd like to think they're worth your time, but that's your call. This will be my primary online shingle to sell stuff, in conjunction with CDBaby, and say stuff, along with my page on facebook, where you should feel free to friend-verb or "like" me as long as you're not a Christian Dominionist homophobe racist Randroid jagoff who's going to yammer stupid linear shit at my friends. If you'd like me to come play somewhere, especially for brothers and sisters of the labor movement, do not hesitate to click here and shoot me an email directly.