It’s that time of the year again: Matt Bednarsky time!!Since 2015, going to Matt’s shows has become a bit of a tradition. In 2015 I saw him twice (here and here). Once in 2016. And now he’s back in town promoting his fantastic new album: Luminescence.
The first half of Matt’s show was a complete playing of the new album. I’ve been listening to the album since it came out in early February, and while the album is really great, I feel like the album’s name is a bit of slightly false advertising. (But not fake news.)
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of places of light in the album! “I Heard a Song” is a beautiful love song to music. “What You Make It” is a reminder that life is exactly that! Take it easy and create a lovely life, and lovely it will be. “Knockout, Courtesy of You” is an upbeat rock song about being knocked out by a lover (figuratively). “Oh, Grace” is a reminder of how beauty and grace complement every dark thing in life. There’s always that silver lining.
The rest of the album is tinged with a bit of darkness and moodiness. I absolutely don’t mean this in a bad way. I can tend to be a moody person, so I tend to like those songs that tug on those dark heartstrings. But where Matt has tackled challenging topics in his songs in past albums, the sound of the songs has been more positive and upbeat. Now he’s tackling the same themes, but the sound carries contemplation, sadness, or frustration depending on the song.
“Man of Science, Man of Faith” is one of the more contemplative songs. A song about someone who is struggling between the seen and unseen.
The lyrics of “Back to America” are largely positive, but it is set to music that sounds downright sad. Personally, this jives with my feelings about America right now. The idea of jumping ship is appealing in this political climate; however, I want to fight for the America that should be. There’s that hope that’s also tinged with the sadness, just like the song and like the song’s inspiration: Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.” This is one of my favorites on the album.
“Once Again” and “Sunset” straddle happy and sad. The first seems reminiscent of the lost time trying to be someone you’re not and offering things you aren’t even interested in. However, it also offers the reminder that we all have a special song to sing, something unique to offer the world and we need to share that with the world. The second evokes how sad it is that most people don’t really stop to take time to appreciate the sunset. Yet it also evokes the wonder and magic of the beauty of the sunsets when we do stop to enjoy them.
“Someone, No One” gets at the frustration of the dating world. This one jives with me because I’ve been dating for so long (forever?). It’s amazing that when you do seem to find someone, how quickly you can become no one again. Matt told me this is hope. I’ll try to believe him…
“In Need of a Good Night’s Sleep” and “I’m No Good at Goodbyes” are relatively self-explanatory. The first translates well to grad. school and occasionally my life as a teacher. I’m sure plenty the song resonates with a variety of other lifestyles too. A traveling musician probably gets it worse than most. The latter song Matt turned into a sing-along during the chorus. Lovely harmonies resonated through the room as we sang this one together during the show.
And the atmosphere of the show was lovely. I’d never been to this particular house concert series. The host’s house was a fantastically designed post-modern building, filled with original pottery, and a variety of artwork graced the walls. She keeps the room the concert was in set up all of the time since house concerts occupy such a large place in her life. It was a full house (at least 50?). I got a front row seat because there really wasn’t anywhere else to go.
And I ran into three friends I wasn’t specifically expecting to see. I find it’s nice to not-so-randomly run into people you know.
The second half of Matt’s show was filled with requests. “The Prism” was requested by the host. Matt told us this song was inspired by the movie Shadowlands, which is a movie about C.S. Lewis and his struggles with his wife’s terminal illness. How would you know happiness if sadness wasn’t there as well?
“Grand” was requested by a few people in the crowd. This one is a tear-jerker for me, and Matt didn’t disappoint on that front. I always think of Dad during that song. Maybe because Dad didn’t have a chance to get old before it was already too late for him. But I hope that when I enter old age, that I will be grand.
“Life Goes On” is another one of my favorites of Matt’s. The idea that no matter what happens, things still go on. This one reminds me of Dad and other lost loved ones too. Life keeps trucking even though they moved on to another plane, or for those who have moved on to other places on this physical plane.
Matt’s music doesn’t get old for me. The themes he writes about are deep, and the music he writes to complement the songs is beautiful. I feel like he may have been experimenting with the sound of the songs more this album. Nearly all of his songs are evocative. Some of them I feel really happy when listening to them, and I can’t help but feel any other way. Some move me to tears, even when I’m listening in my home. He’s a master at pulling just the right heart strings, and this is true for the new album too. Can’t wait until the next time it’s Matt Bednarsky time.