I Saw Love Disfigure Me
Phosphorescent – Song For Zula.
Matthew Houck has been many things. Bright Eyes / Neutral Milk Hotel warbler. West desert drifter. Nilsson-esque Troubadour. Willie Nelson. This latest incarnation, which he considers to be his most raw, to me sounds like late-period Dylan, what with the dramatic strings paired with a stage-shot voice and a fair share of mistakes and regrets stuck to the bottom of his boots. Unlike some of his endeavors, this is a height that Matthew can reach. At six minutes, it goes on a little long but doesn’t wear out its welcome and gives him time to work things out – to explain things. If we’re going to spend that much time in each other’s company, he at least wants to make sure we understand why. For an artist to be so mutable takes a considerable amount of faith in the listener. If we’re going to follow him down another road – from Alabama to Nashville to Los Angeles to Brooklyn – we have to trust that he’s going to be a worthwhile companion and that there’s a point to all this journey. I don’t think that Matthew is lost, on some lifelong sojourn to find himself. I think he knows exactly who he is, and that Matthew is a restless musical nomad who I’d gladly follow again.
This song is the first thing we’ve heard from his new album, Muchacho, which comes out in March via our old friends Dead Oceans. If you haven’t spent any time with his considerable back catalog, it’s well worth your time.