There are singer songwriters and there are real singer songwriters. Many of them are merely filling in time whilst at university playing at being in the music business. Then there are the true troubadours that sing the songs of the lost souls lost on the highway of life. Such a troubadour is Mat D.
His songs reek of the decay of the souls brought by cigarettes, alcohol, heartbreak and hard times. You get the feeling that the meeting with the Devil down at the crossroads is coming soon as he sings his way through this collection of tales of the downtrodden. Take "The Ghost of Huddie Ledbetter", for example, as the protagonist of the song finds himself "sleeping on a dirt road waiting for the mercy to come". You know that dirt road leads to redemption. Likewise "North Star", as the title suggests, looks for a way out of the darkness and into the light. His words have the poetry of the true storyteller and they have soul. Like the late Lee Hazelwood, his songs speak from the heart. There is affection for the subjects of his songs but also the same lack of sentimentality. Life hurts and that's the way it always has been and that's how it always will be.
On the downside, some of the songs would have benefitted from a band (in fact, The Band came to mind…) to give them more sonic impact. That does not detract from Mat D's song writing or storytelling abilities, of course, but the listener can hear that there is space left for more. Even bearing that in mind, this is still an album that is well worth seeking out.
Available from CD Baby.