REVIEW: Matt Woods’ Natural Disasters is Full of Tales From the Road

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Since no one but the most devoted of fans feels compelled to pay for music anymore, artists have had to find other ways to support themselves. Merch, house shows, bigger tip jars – it’s all been done. But the backbone of just about any musician’s income is constant – nearly incessant – touring. One upshot of this development – there are more “road songs” out there, and, even though most of us aren’t touring musicians, we can identify with the side effects of this lifestyle – weariness, loneliness, isolation, and perhaps filling those gaps with something that isn’t terribly good for us. Knoxville’s Matt Woods is one of those guys – constantly on the musical move, always chasing the next show. In the midst of all that, he’s recorded his fourth album, Natural Disasters, and it’s full of tales from the road and from the Southern home he’s (temporarily) left behind.

Matt Woods is a road veteran if there ever was one (he’s crossed my state of Colorado three times in the past year alone), and those miles come across in his songwriting. The lead track, “Blue-Eyed Wanderer”, is a rocker right out of the gate. It sets up the lyrical conflict found across the album – emotional loyalty to home versus chasing his dream out on the road: “I keep getting caught on barb wire thoughts.” There’s always something or someone pulling him toward home, but he can’t quit the road just yet, because there’s always someone vying to take his spot: “I’m not the last of the blue-eyed wanderers.”

Woods expresses a begrudging fondness for his home and his Southern roots. “Drive-Thru Town” is a mid-tempo look at any small town ville in America, full of closed factories, name-tag jobs and failed attempts to leave: “There’s no road out of a drive-through town.” “My Southern Heart” has a Lucero-esque musical feel, complete with accordion line, and finds the narrator looking back at a relationship that’s been fouled up by his wandering and her restlessness, until she up and leaves his Southern heart: “I know some night/You’ll find another underneath those Northern lights.” And “Cold Civil War” follows our political differences from the War Between up until modern times, reminding us that it all starts at home by focusing on the fight amongst one family: “There’s no blue and no gray down here today/No men tryin’ to break free from chains/No red scare to fear, we’re all family here/Fightin’ on Thanksgiving Day.” Is it a southern thing? Sure, but that discord can be found at dinner tables, and in towns small and large, all across America.

All of that wandering, though, leaves a man wanting. In the wistful strummer that closes the album, “Corner of the World”, Woods urges the listener not to get distracted by the noise, because there’s comfort in the small and familiar: “Find a corner of the world that makes you happy.” Meanwhile, he’ll be hitting the road again. He’s survived his contemporaries, and he ain’t ready to give up just yet.

Natural Disasters was produced by Joey Kneiser, and all songs were written by Matt Woods. The band, also called Natural Disasters, includes Adam Meisterhans (electric guitars), Jeremy Mackinder (bass), PJ Schreiner (drums) and Mike Webb (keys), with backing harmonies provided by Lance Howell.

You can order the album here: https://therealmattwoods.com/music-483fd0a5-7ee1-45f5-a1d9-b44338ddc379

And go here for tour dates: https://therealmattwoods.com/tour

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