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  • Bryon Harris

Matt Townsend - 'The Drifter and the Dream (Part 1)'

North Carolina indie folk artist Matt Townsend has released a new EP, "The Drifter and the Dream part 1." The Drifter and the Dream (Part I) is the first installment of a two-part EP series. The EP explores the intersection between political and personal paths, societal constraints and freedom, and spiritual awareness and the material world.

The first song on the EP, " A Great American Madness" opens with a weeping melodic line paving way for Townsend’s vocal entrance. Townsend’s voice was born for folk. His sound is reminiscent of Bob Dylan with a refreshing clarity of vocal tone and articulation. Townsend's first line is “The great American madness lives in cities paved of gold.” From start to finish, every word is gold; Townsend’s lyrics are thoughtful and intelligent. A song for our times, Townsend talks about peddling “hatred as a cure” and the decline of an empire.

Immediately apparent is the high quality of production throughout the Ep. The mix is crisp and clean with Townsend’s vocals perfectly seated above the musicians. The musicianship on this EP is stellar. It features some of Western North Carolina’s finest musicians such as Bill Berg (Drums on Bob Dylan’s Blood onthe Tracks) River Guerguerian, Kat Williams, Franklin Keel, Jackson Dulaney, Carly Taich, Charles Gately (Doc Aquatic), Ryan Burns. The album was produced by Michael Selverne (Welcome to Marsproductions) at Echo Mountain Recording Studios. “Came Down From the Mountain” is the second track and it is equally impressive. Gorgeous finger-picking guitar and passionate cello lines lay the foundation. “I went up to the Mountain to cleanse the poison of the world. The earth was my girl.” In “Came Down From The Mountain,” Townsend demonstrates that he is an intensely reflective and insightful songwriter.

In “Roaming Twilight” deep and rich cello lines play counter melodies to Townsend’s tenor voice to create a duo between singer and musician that will bring tears to your eyes with its simplistic beauty. The song searches for purpose, “Come tell me that I matter… there’s a reason why I breathe.” This ballad is very moving, mesmerizing. “Freedom Is Calling Again” follows with a song about police brutality, poison waters, ministers of war and what "lives behind the curtain" – smoke screens and illusions. The song is a call to rise up. Like many of Townsend’s songs “Freedom Is Calling Again” is a political protest song that unveils the elements of corruption and mass deception while offering hope through unity. The last song is a bit more raw with just rhythm guitar and harmonica. “Katie” is a personal story that starts with two old friends meeting in a downtown coffee shop. The song speaks of lost dreams. “Katie she don’t speak about dreams anymore. She just sighs, keeps looking for the door.” In “Katie” listeners get a front seat unplugged-type performance while listening to a song that feels like a personal conversation between Townsend and “Katie.” The choice to go with a more stripped down sound for this song was brilliant; the simplicity draws you into the story. Townsends EP, 'The Drifter and the Dream (Part 1)' is one of the most important collection of EP's of the year as it offers songs that answer the universal call to reflect and rise up. An EP with themes that will resonate worldwide, "The Drifter and the Dream (Part 1" is a must-have collection of songs for fans of folk music who appreciate songs that tie together social justice and personal awareness; every song delivers with the highest level of musicianship, message and meaning.

For more information about Matt Townsend, please visit his website or bandcamp.

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