Album review: Matty Rockville | Chestnut Ave.

Chestnut AvenueOur Verdict: 4/5
Release date: Out now
Find it at: Matty Rockville’s website

“Exquisite. Rockville clearly has a way with words, an ear for a melody, and an ability to arrange his instruments and fellow musicians in just the right way to service each song… do yourself a favour; seek out Rockville’s Chestnut Ave.”

Life’s complicated, isn’t it? And with each generation it just seems to become even more so. But then perhaps it’s always been complicated. Perhaps life just always seems to become more involved and unfathomable to generation after generation, as our modes of living and being evolve.

It’s a delight then, when you discover something simple, honest and true to hang on to; something that restores your faith in the idea that you can cast your feet down in to the earth and know that the ground is solid; that you’re exactly where you need to be.

And so it is with Matty Rockville’s album, Chestnut Ave. Rockville’s sand-blasted croon, acoustic guitar, bass and drums, occasionally augmented by vocal harmonies, mandolin and fiddle – and that’s it.

Which – let’s be clear – isn’t to diminish the quality of the songs collected here. They’re exquisite. Rockville clearly has a way with words, an ear for a melody, and an ability to arrange his instruments and fellow musicians in just the right way to service each song.

The sounds are raw and unadorned, then, but still warm and expansive. The bass and mandolin are reminiscent of Out Of Time or Automatic For The People era R.E.M., and Rockville’s voice wouldn’t sound out of place on a Green Day record had they pursued American roots rather than American idiots.

Witness the affecting harmonies of ‘Changes’, a tale of lovers figuring out who they were, who they’ve become and what the future holds; or the folk-rock stylings of ‘Waldorf Way and Winchester Ln.’, an affectionate and poetic look back to the past that makes full use of that guitar and mandolin combo to evoke a wistful air of drifting thoughts, reflection and the passing of time. These are high quality, folk, rock and punk nuggets, bathed in melancholia one moment, and the warm glow of good friends and a shot of whisky the next.

Chestnut Ave. isn’t without a healthy dose of good humour, too. You need only listen to the uptempo cheer of ‘My Pub’ – which is as hearty a paean to the local ale house as any we’ve heard – to prove it, or the philosophical findings of ‘Cheers To Results’, a debt of thanks to hardships won, problems overcome and character formed by this thing called life.

Matty humbly refers to himself in his publicity as performing ‘primarily in the DC/Baltimore metro area’, not bigging himself up beyond his current sphere of reach. But he’s been on the circuit since 2002, and the sharp songwriting skills he presents on Chestnut Ave. have no doubt been honed by the hundreds of shows he’s racked up over the past 12 years.

If the only thing you know about Baltimore is what you saw on The Wire, do yourself a favour; seek out Rockville’s Chestnut Ave. and then tell the world what you learned.

You can buy Chestnut Ave. and learn more about Matty at his official Bandcamp website

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