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Matt Smith's World — Into the Light
(Six String Ranch no#, 2023, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-12-07

Into the Light Cover art

Matt Smith is an Austin, Texas based guitarist, songwriter, singer, bandleader, engineer, producer, music educator, and author. He’s also the owner of his own label, Six String Ranch Records, and fronts a number of different bands, as well as working solo. Matt Smith’s World is one of those bands — actually it’s two bands, a six-piece based in New Yerk, and a six-piece based in Austin, both of which are represented on Into the Light, with only Smith, plus various singers and backup singers appearing in both sets, the latter probably added in post-production. Both groups include Smith on guitar and vocals, plus drums, bass, organ, piano, percussion, saxes, and flute. The Austin sessions include steel pan drums, imparting a slight Caribbean flavor to the four cuts where they appear. The remaining six cuts were done by the New York Session group. Like Being Human, one of eight releases Smith produced in 2020 during the pandemic, the songs on Into the Light represent a range of ideas and different genres, although it could be said that most of these pieces embrace a somewhat bluesy horn-rock feel, with a strong singer-songwriter ethic and many layers of background vocals, male and female, to imbue these pieces with a funky soul flavor mixed with pop and Americana. Smith composes collaboratively with the various members of the two session groups, but he has a strong hand in all of the witing, and it’s not just a guitar show — even though Smith turns in many excellent six-string solos, every member of the sessions gets ample time in the spotlight, from the saxes (often multi-tracked), organ, piano, steel pan, and more. It’s a big and busy sound that may remind listeners of some of the great late-60s bands like Cold Blood, Electric Flag, Pacific Gas & Electric and others. There are many standout cuts among the ten, including “Water of Life,” “Why Can’t We Have a Good Time,” “Measure of a Man,” and “Life Ain’t Easy (And Then You Die).” A solid album of great writing and arrangements, and absolute outstanding musicianship and vocals, beginning to end.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Matt Smith

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