monoblogue music: Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World (self-titled)

A self-titled effort from this North Carolina-based artist, Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World reminds the listener a lot of Bob Dylan. A lot.

This isn’t to say that Matt should run out and begin his own tribute band, but it’s the first impression one gets upon firing up this release and dropping the first song, Seventh Story. But fortunately for this listener, it’s really only the voice which is reminiscent of Bob Dylan because Matt forges his own musical direction, albeit with a few fits and starts.

After the country-tinged opener, Townsend shifts gears a little bit with the harmonies and additional instrumentation of Carry On. That song, along with the following Hollow City Streets (Free Me to My Soul), seems to have the most complex instrumentation of the nine songs on the full-length release. Overall, these songs are unusually long for the genre of music as the album runs nearly 47 minutes. Based on that fact alone, real fans will find a lot to love.

Lovers of ballads will certainly enjoy the fourth song of the set, Wind Without The Rain. Another relatively simple song is Desire Like A Lion, the subject of this video.

The organ-based melody of Love I’m Coming Home may also be a good choice.

One unusual thing I noticed about some of Townsend’s songs is how they build up through additional instrumentation. As an example, listen to the closing song, Gratitude In Being, or The Garden Where the Grass Forever Grows. Although the former features an odd transition near the end of the song and the latter seemed a touch disjointed to me, the technique of adding instruments as the song goes is used to good effect nonetheless.

For those who prefer something in a more conventional vein, the middle song Takin’ A Moment would do them quite well.

This album came about in an unusual way, with a primary source of income being crowdfunding. Although Matt didn’t reach his stated goal, he apparently did well enough to get this far. It’s also worth noting that Townsend finds music to be a lifesaver.

Creating music for me has been literally a life saving enterprise. Writing songs and playing music has helped me survive some of the darkest times of my life. I am so grateful to be able to do it at all, because there was a time when I couldn’t.

As a whole, I would say Matt did a fine job, with my one musical quibble being an overly prominent bass drum in the mix. But the musicians, playing instruments up to and including a musical saw featured on a number of tracks, did a nice job bringing the project to life.

And since Townsend lives in Asheville, North Carolina “by way of Burlington, Vermont,” he indeed tours the area on occasion. Among a number of stops in North Carolina and Vermont, Matt has a show slated for September 4 at the Treehouse in Washington, D.C. So if you would like to find out what he’s all about in the days before his first full-length CD is released June 23, listen for yourself. With the musical roots of this region it should be fertile ground for Matt.