“The man on the record was a son of a bitch, to make me believe in this rambling shit…” laments Matt Woods on “West Texas Wind” from his newest effort, With Love From Brushy Mountain. Woods goes on to admit that “it’s in me now and I’ll never quit” and after one listen to this album you will want to find whomever he is referencing and thank them profusely for infecting Woods with the disease of the troubadour.
As far as introductions go, With Love From Brushy Mountain walked right in and punched me in my face. Although I had seen Matt’s name around, I was unfamiliar with his tunes until this record hit my desk. The Knoxville based singer/ songwriter has certainly made himself welcome in my stereo’s rotation.
So often you hear or read people bitching about the state of country music, and while Brushy Mountain is not exactly strictly country, Woods’ sound would be right at home along side the Waylons and Willies of the world. Matt sings from a place deep inside his chest, that allows him to deliver his songs of lovers lost, whiskey consumed and miles traveled with a conviction not often heard these days. The studio band that Woods gathered to record this album easily slides from desperate ballads to swinging honky tonks without ever losing a beat or standing in the way of Woods’ words and vocals.
Lyrically this album is a gem from start to finish, with Woods’ ability to tell a story or convey his feelings through highly quotable lines in each and every song. “Deadman’s Blues” a track released as a single late last year complete with a video, is a great story of how the debauchery of the road can affect a man’s relationships as Woods confesses his is a “first place loser and a last place friend”. Another standout track on the record, finds Matt closing down yet another dive bar and mixing his love for Ben Nichols’ songs with rye whiskey to write his own “Lucero Song”.
The album closer, “Liberty Bell” may be my favorite, the burial of a loved one invokes the classic lines “early to rise to lay her to rest, it quite as bad as you think, my blood shot eyes can hide out behind these shades and a couple of drinks” and the sound advice, “nothing on earth lives forever so live all you can while you’re young”. Later the situation has Woods contemplating his own mortality and instructing his friends to not “stand around crying, just let me go”.
Every year there are tons of good records released, among those there are always some great ones, and there are only a couple that transcend great and stand out among the rest as the year’s best. With Love From Brushy Mountain is absolutely in the latter category. Matt Woods has gained a lifelong fan and champion of his music here and this album is in the driver’s seat to receive The Broken Jukebox album of the year distinction.
Here’s the official video for “Deadman’s Blues” :