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Shadowlands

Music Review: Matt Epp – ‘Shadowlands’ Offers Supple Roots-Rock

Singer-songwriter Matt Epp just dropped a new album. Shadowlands is about entering the shadowy places inside one’s soul, a contemplation of the dichotomy of life.

Epp describes his state of mind when he wrote the album: “I took my time writing this album. I didn’t just include songs that I was trying to make ‘hits’ from. This is my 10th studio album but it feels like a debut for me; it could be self-titled. I think I was/am using the process of this album to work through a lot of challenges and it’s the first time I’ve given an album of mine a role that important. Maybe I thought I had to have answers before. Now I’m asking questions, and am better off having no answers.”

Shadowlands contains 10 tracks, embracing roots-rock, folk, and Americana.

“Runaway” opens the album, a roots rock tune full of aggressive guitars and gospel-flavored vocal harmonies, luminous with bright hues. A scorching guitar solo ignites the air with grungy colors. “The Bell” exudes a John Mayer-like quality, as Epp’s voice takes on a sighing, breathy timbre.

“Mercy” exudes darker pigments and a bluesy redolence. A simmering organ infuses the tune with opaque colors, a sonic constriction snug and tense. “North Country” oozes smoke-filled hues complemented by Epp’s smoke-filled tones. A wafting psychedelic suffusion emanates from the faraway feel of a gorgeous sax, drifting, almost vague.

“Good Lover” kicks it up two notches, an energetic SoCal soft-rock tune. The song has a contagious rhythmic flow, as Epp’s husky voice demonstrates its ability to elevate. I love the spangly guitars radiating in the background.

My favorite track on the album is “May I Have This Dance,” a gentle, creamy folk rock number. The feel and mood of the music is warm and relaxing, pervaded by soft, smooth sonic colors.

Shadowlands is above average, combining roots-rock flavors, sometimes soothing, other times assertive, with Epp’s expressive, rasping tones.

Follow Matt Epp on mattepp.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Randall Radic

Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.

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