Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World

Matt Townsend and The Wonder of the World cover art

This album has revived my interest in folk music. I was sitting up late last Saturday night, and came across this from a submission I had received awhile back. I had kind of forgotten about it, promised I would write about it, but then never really listened to it. I’m not sure what really made me cue it up this time, but man, I did, and I was instantly engaged, loving it, impressed.

I suppose I have developed really high standards for folk/Americana music in the last 6-7 years, which has led me to not listen to very much of the new stuff recently. It’s the music I claimed for myself when I started to come of age in the earlier part of my 20s, but now I’ve been getting away from it, and my favorite albums this year have been punk, soul, and indie rock.

So maybe it’s because of I haven’t really paid attention to folk music lately that this music seemed so novel and fresh. Whatever the reason, I am not at all embarrassed to say I really, really like it, and I know that it IS good, given that I wouldn’t have given it a second look at all if it was run-of-the-mill stargaze/shoegaze folk.

His voice is that of a Josh Ritter or a Langhorne Slim, but Hank Williams’ influence is also unmistakable. The lyrics are accessible meditations on life, love, God, meaning, beauty. And I just love the musical menagerie that he has cobbled together – acoustic guitar, fiddle, pedal steel, upright bass, harmonica, organ – even the enigmatic musical saw. The group sound is more mellow than current hipster bluegrass/jug band phenoms like Spirit Family Reunion, but they bring all of the same rooted charm and depth that has excited people for literally 5+ generations. First it was traditional gospel and bluegrass coming from Appalachia, then hippie-gospel-folk ala the Band and Dylan, then 90s jam-folk ala Phish and Leftover Salmon, and now, the new folk/bluegrass/Americana renaissance with Josh Ritter, Old Crow, the Avett Brothers, and Matt Townsend to advance the vanguard forward.

Folks, I’m excited. Listen to this music. Soak it in. Just allow yourself to be with it, and let it work on you. Stream the album on Bandcamp and then buy the record when it comes out next week. You won’t regret it.


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