Matt York successfully mines darker territory on Between The Bars

The online version of south shore-based Matt York’s new Between The Bars CD features nine very allluring and very mysterious tracks. The songwriter in York mines the darker territory of the human heart while pulling something more meaningful back up for the listener. His vocal delivery is always keenly aware of the song’s setting, and one cannot help but receive a three dimensional vision of what he sings of.

Opening track “All Over The Town” is a tightly woven, classic rock influenced piece. York’s raw timbre, emotionally delivered, pulls the listener in with his emotive depth. Vocal coos and brisk musicianship layer another allure to this song about unfavorable rumors. There’s also a rhythm guitar riff rippling through the song that gives a second pull, like an undertow, into this catchy piece.

“On My Own” finds York delivering the lyrical goods with his ruggedly handsome timbre. His raw, grueling soulfulness makes an excellent contrast to the rolling pace of musicianship around him. An acoustic guitar taps out a melodic edge while the drums and bass press out a loping groove that makes one feel the sensation of the open road the character is driving on toward his nowhere destination.

“Honkytonk Hangover” continues the pace of smooth, flowing cool. Swaying organ swirls, a funky down tempo groove, and York’s forlorn vocal keep this one in a zone of hipster appeal. His emotive sustains amid smooth delivery of his streetwise lyrics tug the listener’s ears and interest on numerous levels.

“When The War Began” has a nostalgic backbeat and early rock and roll piano thing going on. Over that taste of yesteryear, York sings of the old days with fondness and hipness, a dude who can wrap up all that was great about oldies music in one delivery of breezy attitude.

“Hot Shot” travels a brisk pace, buffeted by a clipped acoustic guitar strum. York’s rugged delivery smooths out into gentle coos, one of many techniques he uses to keep this song flavorful and in motion. The sense of movement is strong as this singer goes toe to toe with that momentum, large, looming vocal presence that maintains persistence among moving parts around it.

“September’s Coming Soon” is graced by Matthew Girard’s moody trumpet sprawl, a focal point that keeps the tune’s bittersweet melody and theme in focus. Its tapping drum beat is another nice touch. When York chimes in with his dusky, low croon, his appearance fit the setting like a glove. An unusually high pitch coo and an especially tender vocal concentration turn this into the album’s most gripping number. There is no doubt that York means it when he sings “I’ve been thinking about you.”

“Calling For You” is an intriguing piece, complete with swtichy guitar riffs and a mischievous low end groove. York delivers his desperate plea with a cool swagger, assured on the surface, unsure below. The atmosphere of this number is a fine accomplishment. York then takes it to an even higher level, taunting the listener like a bull fighter, offering more insight into his emotional dilemna.

“Man Who Does Nothing” is about a barfly who has developed a lackadaisical attitude toward life. York’s deadpan delivery is mildly reminiscent of Tom Waits, a world weary soul that has just given up. Yet, the musical whimsy lifts this up with a spirited enthusiasm. A circus march drum and bass motion support an old world accordion sound and a circular acoustic guitar line, one that make it feel like the soul torture will last indefinitely for the character of the song. Nice touch.

York closes out the digital version of his CD with “Birds,” another mighty acoustic guitar strummer, a natural sound that feels and sounds large here, like something holding up all around it. York uses his acoustic to create a feeling of loss, a forlorn emotion that gives the sense he’s driving away from something while wistfully looking back. Bits of electric guitar play out like an encouraging push forward, and by the end of the tune York’s character sounds like he’s on the path to healing.

York’s work on this CD is marked by how well he goes deeper into darker, more mysterious paths of the human heart. His moods and textures are outstanding even before he delivers these mournful tales with a vocal that is not only up to the task musically but filled with its own dark, mysterious timbres. We can only hope he keeps it dark, as that seems to be where he finds his best material.

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