Jesus, whose buns do I have to smooch to get everyone to listen to this guy? If you live in West Michigan and have at least a modicum of interest in local music then you’ve probably heard of Mat Churchill. He’s been writing drop-dead gorgeous music for at least a decade. He’s also lent his bass skills to a number of other artists, most notably Kari Lynch. His sound has the somber folk vibe like Damien Jurado’s earlier work, with occasional, slow-burn explosions of flat-out, fuzzed-up noise that has a Godspeed You Black Emperor! flavor. But his latest God Bless These Shorter Days, is at its heart a country album.
The production is notably fantastic. A music and audiobook engineer by trade, there’s not a bad sound on the entire album. The instruments fall into their perfect places, yet there’s not a false note anywhere to be heard. Mat’s smoky baritone vocals sound clearer, more confident. As far as production goes, this album is not just an improvement over his prior releases. It’s simply remarkable.
I’ve kept up with Mat’s humble music career for a while now. While I love his slower stuff and the country roads this newest album has taken, I’ve also heard him during live shows hone in on his punk influences from younger days. While I can’t imagine he’ll be singing in a fake British accent or playing only power-chords anytime soon, there’s a raggedness raucousness that, for what it’s worth, I think Mat could pull off well. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit’s impeccable release The Nashville Sound had plenty of this. We’ll see what happens. But for now, dig in deeply to this top-shelf album.
Buy his records. Go see him play. Request his music. Seriously, make him famous.
Favorite Track: Call me a predictable, lazy sack of turd but the title track is my favorite. It’s Mat at his best, starting the album out on an oddly positive note that you won’t find a ton of on his prior work. It’s a refreshing change of chorus, reflecting a gratitude we’d all do well to follow during these darker times.
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