W/ BOY BJORN (FOREIGN FIELDS)
Doors 8PM ~ MUSIC 9PM
$10 ADV / $15 DOS
American Wilderness, the striking new Rock Ridge Music album by Nashville-based singer-songwriter MATT HIRES, pays off the promise the musician makes to himself in “Begin Again,” one of the album’s key songs, to “shake the dust and start over.”
The making of American Wilderness was prefaced by a period of profound personal change for Hires. The well-traveled artist had previously issued two full-length albums, Take Us to the Start (2009) and This World Won’t Last Forever, But Tonight We Can Pretend (2013), on F Stop/Atlantic. As that label relationship ended, Hires and his wife of eight years decided to relocate from Tampa, Florida, where they had both lived all their lives, for Nashville, home of both the U.S. country music production line and a burgeoning scene for independent songwriters and musicians. They arrived in the city the day after Christmas in 2014.
“I think that was a big part of the change in my music,” says Hires. “There’s something about moving to a new city, and experiencing new things that helped in opening up my songwriting to new levels of honesty.”
The material on American Wilderness drew its stylistic inspiration from old and new strains of Americana and contemporaries whose work reflects Hires’ own engaging pop sensibility. Many of the album’s songs explore an individual’s uncertain place amid the roiling tumult of modern life in the U.S. Others – like “Holy War” and “Glory Bound” – candidly observe Hires’ own internal conversation about religion and belief.
Though American Wilderness looks deeply and unflinchingly into the darkness of personal and spiritual experience, Hires emphasizes that his new album concludes on a bright point of light.
“A strong theme on the album is rebirth, new beginnings, and the idea that tomorrow doesn't have to be like today,” he says. “The last song is ‘Don’t Let Your Heart Grow Cold.’ While it can go to some fairly dark places, I wanted to make sure it ended on a hopeful note. You can make it better. Winter always turns into spring.”
American Wilderness is itself a creative spring for Matt Hires, marking the blossoming and emergence of a bright voice in American songwriting.
Born out of a desire to capture moments lost, BOY BJORN’s debut album, ‘Mistaken Animals’, is full of caricatures and stories from the past. iPods and parking lots in high school. Relationships with family members lost too soon. Beauty in the mundane that’s forgotten as knowledge grows. With a new-found clarity of thought, Brian has used this nostalgic exploration of the past to reflect upon and change the way he lives his life today.
This travelling between the periods of time that sit either side of his attack and the lessons he’s taken along the way are at the core of ‘Mistaken Animals’. There’s a conversational feel to the lyrics with the discussion seemingly taking place between his younger self and the man he is today. The music also jumps between two separate worlds – at times it is bewildering and washy with multiple drum samples stacked on top of synth layers all fighting to break through the winner whilst in other moments it is intricate and solemn.