by Jackson Truax, published on shakedownnews.com on September 6, 2016
This past July at Hotel Café, I had the great pleasure of seeing Matthew Szlachetka opening for The Dirty Knobs, the side project of Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s lifelong guitarist Mike Campbell. Szlachetka’s set succeeded in delivering all of the things that make a set of music memorable, trenchant, insightful, and fun. But there was something else in Szlachetka’s writing and showmanship that made his music special and his show especially life-affirming. While I wasn’t sure if I could have articulated it at the time, I knew I wanted to spend more time with what Szlachetka offers audiences locally and across America. So I immediately bought his debut solo album, “Waits for a Storm to Find,” and his new single “Heart of My Hometown,” (now available on iTunes), which also serves as his next music video (released later in September 2016), and is also the title track for his upcoming sophomore solo record.
Szlachetka invited me to two full band shows he played at the now defunct Piano Bar in Hollywood and an upcoming show at Hotel Café on Friday, September 9th, where he’s sharing the stage with his occasional co-writer Jeff Silbar, who won a Grammy in 1990 for co-writing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” I was also offered an early opportunity to hear Szlachetka’s forthcoming album, which is both a definitive statement in and reinvention of the sub-genre of “Americana Roots Rock.” Szlachetka was born and raised in New England, is based in Los Angeles, and often works and writes in Nashville. The singular aspect to his forthcoming album and the title track that makes them special might be the extent to which it’s profoundly and equally influenced by all of those locations and the musical lineages associated with them. Because Szlachetka is mused by such an incredible melting pot, it makes sense that he could wear all of those influences proudly and still maintain an entirely original sound and voice. The other thing about the forthcoming album that’s uniquely compelling is the way that Szlachetka is constantly able to imbue his music with the exaltation and resilience of a classic Bruce Springsteen record, while also delivering the humanity and warmth of John Prine’s best songwriting. After appearing in the second season of TV’s “Parenthood” playing with his old band The Northstar Session, Szlachetka’ last single “Come Home for December” and “Heart of My Hometown” have been among his songs added to regular rotation on SIRIUS XM The Pulse’s “Train Tracks,” and these songs and others have been played on radio stations throughout the Northeast including WFUV 90.7 FM in New York City and WRSI 93.9 in Massachusetts, with his music playing in what’s appropriately known as the “Pioneer Valley.”
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