Matthew Austin Hunt is a singer songwriter from Houston, Texas. On May 29th, 2020 he released his first self-titled album. The ten-track release features three singles Matthew Austin Hunt previously released to support the album – namely “American Made”, “Drip By Drip” and “Bye London Bye”.
Matthew Austin Hunt’s album features the man himself (lead vocals/acoustic guitar), Derek Hames (acoustic/electric/bass guitar, hammond organ, mandolin and backing vocals), John Shelton (lead and rhythm guitars), Isaias Gil (on drums), Mark Riddell (also playing bass), Chris Ardoin (also on drums), Ellen Story (fiddle/background vocals), Jimmy Moreland (on piano), Kelvin McClendon (on rhodes). Quite the personnel list!
In the short time the album has been out, Matthew is enjoying a little over 10,000(!!) monthly listeners on Spotify. What’s the fuss all about? Well let’s dive into this and find out!
The album begins with “American Made”, a patriotic little ditty for sure. This was first released as a single (the final of the three). Despite the sentiment of the song – something feels lacking here, the substance of the lyrics seems a bit dry. There’s some good energy for sure. The guitar solo was pretty good, really enjoyed a certain “Joe Perry”/”Brad Paisely” kinda performance it delivered.
As soon as “Open Book” kicks in, it feels so much different to “American Made”. The production in this track feels much more polished than the previous one. “Open Book” flows so nicely, the movement between each section of this track makes for a very pleasant listening experience. What’s nice about this track too is that although when Matthew gets started singing, the story the lyrics tell feels a bit over-saturated but by the end of the track it feels like it fits a bit better. Overall a great track.
“Bye London Bye” is up next. This was the second single released from the album on March 6th, 2020. Yup, you can hear Matthew’s James Taylor influence immediately. It’s not a bad thing, he approaches this with his own touch. The story of the song is much more clearer and not as saturated as the beginning of “Open Book”. Only qualm with this track is that it seems that the vocals are mixed a bit too high up in the mix which overpowers much of the other elements. Other than that it’s a nice tune with a good story behind it.
“Drip By Drip” was the first single of the three released prior to the album. Now this track, wow. What a tune! It feels much edgier and has a totally different vibe to the previous tracks. It sounds tight. The lyrics and vocals feel like they flow well with the music. Fantastic track.
The next track is “Close to Me”. Now this one has a much more of a folkier-feel that sounds very nice. Lovely lyrics. You can tell with this track that Matthew put a lot of thought into this track, there’s never a dull moment here. The key change is perfect. We were expecting a big kick off, but we will happily settle for that. Excellent.
“We Can Dream” kicks off in a very Bryan Adams-esque arena style. Love it! Now here’s a track with a lot of punch. This is a very well polished track, if you’re listening to this through headphones you will be in for an audible treat. “We Can Dream” feels like Matthew and his band are cutting loose to great effect!
Another sweet ballad comes in the form of “The Day I Met You”. It doesn’t waste much time getting straight to the point. We just love the flow of this track, it’s like velvet. There are points where this track grabs you and keeps your attention. The fiddle and guitar solos flow very nicely into one another then into the bridge! The ending is very well done with a little tease. Now that is what we call music.
Southern rock influences are very clear in “Let Me Breathe”. If you listen very carefully there’s some cool organ licks every now and again which really adds a nice touch. This is one of those tracks you hear when you stare at the trees as the sun beats down. “Let Me Breathe” is a song for the summer, without a shadow of a doubt.
“Shade of Grey” has a “Take A Walk On The Wild Side” kind of feel. This track builds up bit by bit as it goes along. As we listen we anticipate what’s coming next. The piano in this track is an excellent addition, it works so well with this track. We think the track could be a little bit longer, “Shade of Grey” feels a bit premature in its ending. Despite this, it’s a good listen.
Finally we have “My Dear Friend”, another ballad. Now this track is a departure from the previous ballads as the theme is more about a loss of a friend. A very solemn track and an interesting way to finish this album but it somehow works.
So overall, the album flows nicely. There’s a lot of variation of feel with each track that passes. One thing we’ve noticed is that the tracks very rarely go over the four-minute mark. While we understand that in today’s music economy, the idea is to keep the listeners’ attention – we feel that perhaps one or two of the tracks could’ve been forgiven for going over that length. We enjoyed Matthew Austin Hunt’s self titled album and we’d say that our favourite two tracks of the album are “We Can Dream” and “The Day I Met You”.
But we want more, damnit!