Reckless Son Matt Butler

REVIEW: Reckless Son “Reckless Son”


Reckless Son — Reckless Son

I’ve long been a fan of prison dramas (Oz, Prison Break and Mayor of Kingstown rank among my favorites). But what those dramas miss in their fast-paced, one-hour run times is the regret, despair and strange sense of placeless-ness felt by the folks in real-life detention. New York-based musician Matt Butler has turned years of touring and playing in prisons into a one-man show, Reckless Son, which now has an accompanying EP, a collection of songs about the people Butler has met along the way – cautionary tales, yes, but also an exercise in empathy toward the folks who find themselves on the wrong side of the iron bars.

The stories that Butler shares really are set in the types of scenarios that most of us could find ourselves in, with a twist that sends it all in the wrong direction. The driving first track on the EP, “Time To Be A Man,” features a small town narrator whose life starts to unravel when his father faces an all-too-familiar downfall – “I lost my job and your mama’s gone” – and ends in pills and an arrest. The final verse, though, has the imprisoned young man trying to warn others off the fate he’s found – “If I let this chance slip through my hands/To look you in the eyes and be the one to say/It’s time to be a man.” 

It’s like that with most of the folks found on Reckless Son – they’re what we’d callously call f@ck-ups, but there’s always more to the story. The spare “Good Friday” has an unreliable, addicted son – “Choking on some fresh regrets/And electronic menthol cigarettes” – receiving a hefty dose of tough love from his mother – “But like Good Friday, mama, I come and go/And I guess that’s why you always tell me no.” “Tell Lucy I Love Her” follows a grieving criminal as he realizes that a lover (and a son) are better off without him – “But don’t let her see me in this place/Don’t make me have to see that look on her face.” It’s a heartbreaking mix of self-pity and mourning the future he’ll never have.

With all of that fear and sorrow, though, it wouldn’t be a particularly good story without a little bit of redemption, right? The EP wraps with “The Wisdom of a Child,” a dreamy song to someone who’s thriving outside prison walls – “I’ve watched you as you’ve grown up tall/Humble in your risin’/ And gracious in a fall.” Again, there’s not that much difference between the folks on either side of bars – stories are more complicated than those prison dramas make them out to be. As Butler says, “Reckless Son wasn’t written for the incarcerated. It was written for those who haven’t had the privilege of meeting these people and hearing their stories for themselves,” Butler has artfully, and empathetically, retold five of those stories. Give ‘em a listen.

Song That I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Tell Lucy That I Love Her” – Butler fairly howls to give voice to the sorrow for all his characters have left behind. Powerful stuff. 

Find the music and more information here: Check out show dates here: and at @recklesson on Instagram & Twitter


Leave a Reply!