Boston Singer-Songwriter Matt York Drops Versatile New Album
Matt York writes heartbreak songs but they’re not all hopeless. Much of what the Boston singer-songwriter writes are stories about people fighting to crawl their way up out of the sludge, so while his discography as a whole might feel weighed down by a common thread of sadness, there are glimmers of hope to hone in on.
Earlier this month, Matt released his latest full-length album, Bruisable Heart, a record oscillating between his twangy Americana style and rock ‘n roll romps. There’s still the sadness though. “Bruisable Heart is this somewhat odd collection of songs about loss and isolation. A few of the tracks were inspired by the opioid epidemic — I played a few benefit shows to help people battling addiction and was just really struck by the stories I heard from some of them. Most of the songs on here aren't specific to that though,” Matt York tells us about the record. “Many are about trying to find the light or trying to find a path forward. Each song is a different story but I think sadness, loss, and a searching for hope help give the album some cohesion.”
Bruisable Heart opens with “I Got Nothing,” a tender introduction built on Matt’s comfortable acoustic strumming and a nice piano accompaniment adding some depth to what becomes a strong, but fleeting, ballad. “Permanent Crush” follows, a searing, emotional effort that’s “as happy as [Matt] gets musically.” It’s a love song — sweet, simple, and unobtrusive — reading like a diary entry, a beautifully honest gush about a crush. On “Love You Patiently,” things kick up a bit. The string component is quickened, anxious practically, and Matt dabbles in vocal versatility here. The album’s title track has echoes of Matt’s heroes — a Springsteen guitar lick here, some Townes twang there, and Dylan’s poesy sneaking in. “I Lost My Baby To The Needle” is gritty. Matt’s voice is a low rumble that softens when it needs to, and even though the arrangement is sparse with pretty piano and gentle strums, there’s still the grit of its subject matter.
Halfway through Bruisable Heart comes “Feels Like Home,” another track that finds Matt’s vocals delivering their best effort in terms of both strength and emotion. The production on this one means that Matt’s jarring vocals are sent swimming in a chaotic arrangement of endless elements inching into the center when you least expect it. The second half of Bruisable Heart is sluggish with its own weight, clearly the darker, heavier half of the record — “Marry You” is similar to its predecessor in that it’s a rollicking, quick-paced effort lost in shadowy alt-folk rhythms. On “I’m Never Unsure, I Just Keep Moving,” Matt delivers his darkest composition yet. A heavy arrangement garnering some similarities to Springsteen’s “Radio Nowhere,” it’s built on edge and Matt’s howled twang. “What The Winter Will Bring” starts out suggesting another winding path of eerie alt-folk, but it moves seamlessly into something a little more sweeter, a little more honest. Bruisable Heart ends with “Going Crazy,” a gently plucked conclusion that might be one of Matt’s best efforts yet. Lyrically, it’s a brave confession and a desperation. Sonically, it’s lush with true emotion. It’s a much-needed comedown to an album steeped in jangly outlaw rhythms.
With his latest album, Matt York humbly introduces himself as a songwriter of great depth, an empathetic heart, and a world of talent.