"What if we could act our shoe size
And see the world through our children's eyes?"
That's the kind of sentiment you'll hear listening to Matt Abell. From the song "Act Like a Child," it's about a parent who has "to be reminded how to laugh, how to smile," and discovering that his children have all the answers. Despite the grown-up message, his songwriting has an undeniable playfulness. In "Little Habits," a housewife laments her husbandís messes but admits "for every stupid thing you do, I have to laugh 'cause I love your funny ways."
A self-taught guitarist, Abell's songs are rich with alternate tunings, complex voicings, and a variety of fingerstyles. With a Bachelorís degree in creative writing, he has honed a uniquely lyrical voice, penning over a hundred songs and reviving the story-song in the tradition of Harry Chapin and Jim Croce.
But more than just story-songs, Abell's songs are snapshots of lives hanging in the balance -- in "Son for a Saturday" a divorced father tries to pack a lifetime of memories into the one day a week he sees his child; the narrator of "Your Name" begs his lover not to give up college and leave him to pursue an acting career; and "Brother" is a posthumous letter, written from a Confederate soldier to his Union-soldier brother as his casket returns home on a train.
These characters are so fully-fleshed, they feel as if they belong in a novel-yet Abell is able to portray them in just a few verses, distilling the long-winded literature of folk into contemporary pop song structures. With an economy of language, he creates character studies like "Shack in the Woods," a macabre biography of mass-murderer Ted Kaczynski; or "One Small Voice," a Christmas story told with quiet wonder from the perspective of the newborn Jesus.
Stylistically, Abell's songs reflect his diverse musical taste, ranging from folk to funk, bluegrass to bossanova, and even rockabilly to rap. He has played with a who's who of regional talent, including award-winning pianist Jesse Green, son of jazz trombonist Urbie Green, guitarist Spencer Reed, saxman Vinnie Bianchi, and drummers Daniel Gonzalez and Neil Braunstein. In 2002, he showcased at the Delaware Water Gap COTA Festivalóthe only folk artist to play at the typically all-jazz festival.
He can be heard primarily in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, playing solo and with the bands Milkweed, MSG, and Vinyl Destination at establishments such as the legendary Deer Head Inn, the Sarah Street Grill, and Sam Snead's, aside from annual appearances at the Pocono Garlic Festival, Stroudfest, American Freedom Festival, Pennsylvania Singer-Songwriter Festival, ESU Earth Day Festival, and Summer Gazebo Concert Series.
304 Wallace Street
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
Beautiful poetry. The chorus harmony is a wonderful antidote to the melancholy verse -- a heart-breaking story, yet hopeful at the same time. Well done!
review written by: Jenny