Friday , October 22 2021

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.

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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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