Matt Woods - The Matt Woods Manifesto
By: Alec Cunningham
Local musician Matt Woods has stepped up to bat once again with his new release, but this time he’s tapping into his country roots. The Matt Woods Manifesto, which was released mid April, is made up of twelve of some of Woods’ finest songs to date. As for narrowing down the best songs for the album, though, it was not an easy task. “We took seventeen songs into the studio, but I probably had a pool of close to thirty to choose from,” Woods says. No Beer In Heaven, a limited edition four-song bonus disc was also made available for the album release.
A grand total of fifteen talented local musicians appear on the album including Grant Houser, Tim Lee, Brock Henderson, and Trisha Gene Brady. Trisha Gene Brady’s Lucinda Williams-esque sound brings a beautiful new characteristic into “Lost in Tennessee”, making the song sound like an intimate conversation between a conflicted couple.
So, why exactly the album title The Matt Woods Manifesto? “This is my definitive album,” Woods says. “This album marks a different direction from what I was doing when I had rock and roll bands.” Woods describes his new album as having an “outlaw country meets roots rock Americana” sound, a sound that he had not been able to fully tap into with his previous bands Magpie Suite and Plan A.
Woods’ passionate, backwoods voice sets the stage for his rough country album. His voice does this album’s subject matter and sound justice. If you haven’t heard any of Woods’ previous musical endeavors, it is hard to picture him playing any other genre of music.
“I’ve taken a more country and rootsy turn with this album. I’ve been writing more frequently, so I can credit my writing for helping me take that turn.” Woods can pat himself on the back for allowing his writing to take charge. From raw country tunes like “The House Always Wins” and “Port St. Lucie”, to fugitive tales such as “Johnny Ray Dupree” and “Wrong Turn Blues”, there is never a dull moment in this action packed solo album.
Much of Woods’ inspiration for his album comes from his hometown. “I’ve spent my whole life in East Tennessee. They say to write about what you know, and I’m proud of what I try to portray in my music. I want the music I’m making to be honest. East Tennessee has a lot to do with my honesty.” Woods mentions Tennessee in numerous songs including “Lost in Tennessee” and “Jellico Mountain.”
“I try to portray real emotions even on my story songs. Other songs are far more intimate, though.” Either way, Woods says that he does his best to follow all of his moments of inspiration to an end. The sheer intimacy and dedication Woods puts into his music is clear throughout the album.
“Most of my song ideas come out of nowhere,” Woods explains. The inspiration and story line for “Johnny Ray Dupree” came from a real life event. “I was listening to a news article about a death row inmate, and I thought, ‘I should write an execution song.’ I wanted the listeners to be able to relate to some of what he feels. I thought up the lyrics ‘they took my life on August 31,’ and thought, ‘hey, that sounds good,’ so I worked with it from that.”
However he writes his songs it is definitely working for him. The Matt Woods Manifesto is one album you do not want to pass up.