Matty Powell is a restless man. He has hopped back and forth across the country (and out of the country) acting in plays. building homes for the less fortunate and, of course, making music. When he finally decides to make music, it definitely seems to be a momentous occasion. Kiss the City is Powell’s latest effort, and his country/roots/rock combination sounds pretty great thanks to producer Alec Fraser.
Kiss the City is also an album that will get you your money’s worth, consisting of 13 tracks, with most of those songs at four minutes or longer. There’s a lot to take in, and it will definitely take multiple listens to appreciate the musical layering happening here.
“The Creek” was a good choice on Powell’s part to open the album, as it’s one of the strongest songs overall. There’s a great blending of multiple guitars, piano and distant-sounding percussion as Powell sings about an ideal time with a lover. “Dance me down to the creek/We’ll build a bed out of leaves,” Powell sings in his deep, slightly scratchy voice. Powell even sings in what sounds like Spanish partway through the song and the music picks up even more when the percussion comes in a little louder.
There’s also the very sweet “Freja,” named after his daughter. It’s appropriately an uptempo number with shakers, bass guitar and piano that ends with Powell singing “Shine that beautiful face.”
Powell also shows that he can do a lot with the basics, such as in the powerfully lonely “This Cigarette.” With just his voice and an acoustic guitar, Powell sings lines like “I found lonely in the bathroom of a Greyhound” and shows off his vocal strength and range. Album closer “Kiss the City” also ends the album in more or less the same fashion, with a few heartfelt phrases such as “Aflutter goes my heart and under my breath I say/’Could you stay?’”
“Still Love You” is a song that doesn’t, at first, sound like it could be one of the best songs on the album until it begins to add in other instruments like bongos and some well-plucked upright bass strings from Alec Fraser.
Then there’s also some unexpectedly guitar-heavy numbers that save the album from being another deposit in the bin of folk/roots records. “Smoke Rings” in particular shows off a bit of Powell’s guitar virtuosity, and “Insecurities” seems to come out of nowhere and reinvigorate what could have been a uniformly melancholy album.
There’s a lot to take in when listening to Kiss the City, but some patience will definitely find that there’s more to discover each time. The album is available from iTunes.
Top Tracks: “The Creek”; “Still Love You”; “Insecurities”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)