Matt Fockler is one of those gritty hidden jewels just making music quietly out there somewhere in America, writing songs and supporting other artists. Up until now. Luckily this one made its way through to some other music folks and then, lucky for us, made it to our headphones, because it is peaceful and introspective and we love it. The self-titled album was produced and recorded by Michael Shay, and co-produced and mixed by Jonathan Byrd.
Musicians on this album are Matt Fockler on acoustic guitar and vocals; Michael Shay (The Just Desserts) on cello and vocals; Albert Bestario on lead guitar; Elizabeth Suggs on vocals; Colin Brooks (The Band of Heathens) on National steel and vocals; Anais Mitchell (Bonny Light Horseman) on vocals; Jonathan Byrd on acoustic guitar, electric guitar and vocals; and Doug Marcus on drums and percussion.
“Do You Dream” is the first song on the record and builds the foundation for the rest of the album with easy acoustic guitar and rusty sounding, unique Woody Guthrie or Tyler Childers – style vocal tones and a low attention-grabbing cello. “I chase one down with you … see things like they should be….” This earthy lullaby is followed by “Like to Dance,” she had a big truck, was a pretty person who never had trouble because when it goes down, it’s up to you. A song of keen observation on the truly vast differences between people.
“Home in Glory Land” again offers descriptions of America and the ups and downs of life complete with diners and alibis too — this one with some more gripping, gritty cello in the mix. “Somebody’s Angel” puts Colin Brooks in the limelight with National steel acoustic guitar and a gentle vocal expression again by Fockler.
“Love Ain’t Easy” features Anais Mitchell’s sweet vocals playing counterpart to Fockler’s tremolo vocals in a campfire love song. “Love ain’t easy when you’re a man.” Something to think about.
Further into the heart of the ten-song album, “Lakota Sioux” is another win, with guitar playing like the wind, and the transition from summer into fall, with the geese, dropping temperatures, and visions of what life would have been like for Lakota Sioux chasing buffalo to keep them alive through the winter. “Lakota Woman” is a blurry song of attraction and support for a woman who “can’t find her soul ’cause things are sh*tty.” Jonathan Byrd plays on both these songs and sings on “Lakota Sioux.”
Fockler’s songs have been covered by Jonathan Byrd, the Steep Canyon Rangers and more. This album is a discovery for quality music fans. Put it in your list for year’s bests candidates. If you’re looking for that almost-overlooked diamond in the rough this year, check it out: http://www.mattfockler.com