Matt King is a modern nomad. A scribe, recording, describing whom and what he sees as he roams. Like Samuel Clemens, Matt captures the landscape, the irony of a world gone mad, only done with fewer words and music, for greater effect. His visions are strained through Appalachian roots, sung with the voice of and hewn by the hands of a modern day mountain man, where such is no longer allowed.
He’s not a prophet; his words are delivered without expressed ideology or judgment, but the pictures they paint go a long way toward verifying prophecies of others. Some make me smile, because smiling is more fun than crying, but the ground between the two emotions is scant. We live in tragic times.
His songs remind me of a trip through some old vaudeville traveling circus, complete with whores, card sharps, thieves, snake-oil salesmen. A juggler tosses balls, another guy rides a big wheel bike in circles, a monkey grinds a hand organ with one hand and jacks off with the other, when he’s not picking your pocket. There’s incest, murder, polluted landscapes, con-artists; bizarre sounds lure you in and then in the next minute scare hell out of you. Moonshine can be had, maybe even a line of white powder or psychedelic smoke, though Matt no longer imbibes. Painted Gypsy women lay you down, read your fortune or caste a spell if you prefer; junk men wait to haul off anything not nailed down or that won’t start; passing trains ferry hoboes through abandoned farms populated by shotgun toting squatters that by-God want to be left the hell alone.
If by chance any part of this menagerie creates a twinge of guilt, well, there’s a snake-charming preacher ready and willing to sell you a dose of comfort for the right price.
The tracks wind through dying factories and wastelands that once kept us alive and continue killing the earth in some sort of psychotic dance of daredevils. Wars abound. There’s mercury in the water, acid in the air. Atlas shrugs, Jesus weeps. There’s hell in the hen house, blood in the barn. Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Sister Theresa kindly die and shut the fuck up; in so doing, become heroes.
Elsewhere children cry; a young woman ends her own life at thirty-three. But the cars keep rolling, mama bakes her biscuits and daddy plants a seed.
Despite all, life goes on. Hope refuses to succumb and from amongst the ruins, people find a way to sing, play and dance to good songs.
Matt King has created a wonderful album, a wide-sweeping vision of our times, set to music.
This will last a long, long time.
The CD is not yet available, but a digital album can be had through Matt's web-site.