Matt Woods “Mornings After” (Lonely Ones Records, 2020)

As a companion to his 2019 album ‘Natural Disasters’ – which was heavy with the best of Americana tropes: tales of the road, heartbreak and small town living – Matt Woods has released a new EP called ‘Mornings After’, which sees him amplifying and building on the quality material that he brought us on his aforementioned release.

‘Tomorrow’s All We Have’ is the opener, and what an opener it is: bluesy, soulful and powerful, it’s an instant attention grabber. “Sweating out last night’s mistakes / With nothing to hold to help with the shakes,” growls Woods spine tinglingly. ‘Take It Slow’ strikes a softer tone, but this song of lost love still maintains all the soul of its predecessor. “I’ve been holding on to this pillow like it might start breathing any one of these nights,” sings Woods on the intro, creating a vivid image and lyrical highlight.

‘Sunshine’ is raw and again, utterly fervent, with wonderful backing vocals provided by Kashena Sampson. The lyrics tell a story of someone looking for lasting love in the wrong places (“He swears they’ll be a time some time it’ll be alright / And he’ll be there in the end / She’s still aware dancing with his hands in her hair / She’ll wake up all alone again”). ‘California Shakes’ is the tale of a woman leaving town for pastures new (“She said this ol’ town’s a heart attack / And went driving toward a better home / “I’ve never been out east / It’s high time I should go” / San Francisco stopped to watch her leave / Her heart set on another coast”).

On ‘Getaway’, a veritable love letter to touring, Woods laments: “I used to be a singer in this tragic rambling show / On the move to find a place to go / Holding close my lover in the notes and in between.” He eventually concludes however, that he can’t quit life on the road as hard as it may be (“I’ve been thinking about quitting / But I don’t know what to do with my hands”) and with songs like these, that sound born to live and breathe in a live setting, it’s easy to see why it keeps pulling him back.

Woods has such a captivating, magnetic voice filled with passion, it’s hard not to draw parallels to the now hugely successful Chris Stapleton. Stapleton, like Woods, hung around on the outskirts of Nashville fame for many years before getting his much deserved turn in the spotlight; and if there is any justice, Woods’ time to shine to bigger audiences will come sooner rather than later.

An incredible voice, great lyrics and strong musicianship make this a must-hear EP
9/10

Author: Helen Jones

North West based lover of country and Americana.

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