The troubadour. The singer of the songs. The storyteller. Stories of the grit and grime of life glamorised in the way that only poets manage. Poetry set to music as epitomised by Lee Hazelwood, Kris Kristofferson or John Prine. Songs that mean something to you and not just after that fifth beer. This album from Mat D (aka Mathew DeRiso, front man from Bluesbunny favourites Mat D and the Profane Saints) provides some fine additions to the canon of country - and indeed popular - songs.
There are songs that we have heard before, of course, like "Bound for Glory" but they manage to survive on their own without the support of a band. Mat D's voice shows that flawed but real quality that is associated with proper country singers and he sings his own songs well. Redemption is a common theme in proper country music and "Damnation Line" hits the mark evoking images of the emptiness of the highway at night and, by inference, the emptiness of life when you have lost something - "…a wandering soul never cries". There is a theme that runs through these songs in that Mat D paints pictures of people's sense of dissatisfaction with life. Not dissatisfaction with what they have got but perhaps dissatisfaction with what they have gotten out of life. Let's not forget that he also does a nice line in hope as well and "Midway Babylon" illustrates that. He is a dramatic if dark songwriter, however, and we've said it before but no one puts a soap opera to song better than Mat D. That said, we did miss a band sometimes, especially on the songs that we have grown to love like "Bikini Bull Riding".
There are songs on this album that will (or at least should if there is any justice in this world) become standards. Writing songs that can touch people's souls is no easy task and it is certainly no guarantee of commercial success but we raise our glass to Mat D as we think of our sweet Louise. You can get a copy from CD Baby.