Knoxville, TN is home to songwriter Matt Woods , whose new EP Mornings After releases this Friday, September 4th via Lonely Ones Records. For those who are familiar with and enjoyed his previous album, Natural Disasters, you’re in for a real treat. This new EP is a companion release to that 2019 full length, carrying a similar vibe and feel of organic song-crafting at it’s very best. For those new to Matt Woods, Mornings After is a fine place to begin.
Mornings After, much like its predecessor conveys the spirit of a comfortable, laid back, one take session. That notion can likely be attributed to returning producer, engineer and mastering guru, Joey Kneiser (also credited with percussion). Woods’ band, also named The Natural Disasters, consists of Adam Meisterhans (Electric Guitar), Jeremey MacKinder (Bass), PJ Schreiner (Drums), Mike Webb (Keys), who all return here, along with Kashena Sampson & Lance Howell (Backing Vocals). Indeed, the consistency of the band seems as important as the songwriting and production to the album’s overall sound.
The 5-track EP kicks off with “Tomorrow’s All We Have,” a cautious, but fiery tale of heartache. While “Take It Slow” agonizes and pleads with loss in such a way that sadness and pain seem contagious, and that right there serves as testimony to the potency of Woods’ songwriting.
About that songwriting, Woods is quoted on his Facebook page as saying “I write about what is ready to come out, and try to be as honest as I can about it.” So, on “Getaway” when he sings, “I’ve been thinking about quitting, but I don’t know what to do with my hands” it certainly speaks volumes. Especially so, during this awkward moment in history that has brought live music to an abrupt halt.
“Sunshine” is a low slung guitar, sleazy rocker, capturing ill-fated honky-tonk romances and the need for just a little bit more in companionship and just maybe, life in general. As a side note, there’s something present in the cadence of the song that reminded me of early verses of Allison Moorer’s “Bully Jones” initially. But strangely, with a quick revisit to that particular song, I just couldn’t pinpoint it.
“California Shakes” closes things out, with Meisterhans’ gentle slide guitar matching the pleading, almost aching, sentiment of Woods’ heartfelt vocals. There’s tremendous emotion masterfully built into this song, and in fact, it’s probably my current favorite, and does the best job of capturing what Woods is all about. Mornings After is chock full of earthy, soulful goodness that resides somewhere deep in the cracks between mainstream and independent. Woods is a gifted writer and performer, and this EP is as good a place as any to jump in to discover an artist that’s destined for bigger and better things. There’s a sincerity and pure honesty present in Woods’ songs that Nashville has a habit of erasing in some way or another. Woods is the real deal, and more people deserve to hear his songs. Drop into Matt Woods’ webpage for more information and to get your own copy of Mornings After right here: https://www.therealmattwoods.com