Matt Westin – Legacy
With an epic clap of the drums, “You Leave Me No Choice” rips right through the stereo speakers and ushers forth the splendor that is Matt Westin’s new eclectic country album Legacy, out now everywhere indie country music can be found. In a whirlwind of bittersweet acceptance and suppressed frustration, Westin does battle with devils and personal demons, waging the war in a tizzy of ethereal slide guitar and moving vocals, carefully arranged in an almost symphonic dirge. As we fade into “Don’t Feel the Rain,” it becomes clear that these inner demons aren’t going to give up without a fight, and Westin is going to have to dig deep to make any progress in removing the emotional lead jacket that’s weighing him down. He takes a moment to evaluate what got him to this point in the rollicking “Good Time” before getting back into the grind in “Our Redneck of the Woods,” and as we listen to his dexterous dance between coming undone and assuming total control, it isn’t hard to see part of ourselves embodied in the perspective that Westin is trying to reshape for the better.
“Right Amount of Wrong,” and “Too Many Mondays,” two of my very favorite songs from Legacy, take us in a little less cerebral of a direction and show us that not all of this record reads like a personal diary entry. Matt Westin sports a lot of versatility for an artist who is so clearly absorbed in intellectual thought that goes far beyond just composing and playing music. “The Devil’s Door” is easily the most progressive track of the album, tying together the irreverent themes with the poignant ones as if to bind all of the characters from Westin’s storytelling into a single, anthological tale of love and life in blue collar America. It doesn’t prepare us for the crushing, tear jerking balladry that is “The Road That Never Was,” but to be completely fair, I don’t know that anything could. I don’t often become as emotional listening to the music that I review professionally as I did listening to this song explicitly, but something about the imagistic lyrics describing Westin’s close relationship with his ailing (and now deceased) father made it impossible not to connect with him on a level that transcends the limitations of a studio recording.
“Farm Town” picks us back up from the climactic “Road” that precedes it and gets us shaking one last time before things come to a fitting close in the lingering “Southerly,” a song so divinely harmonious that one has to look closely at the lyrics to realize that it isn’t a gospel song. I don’t know what first inspired Matt Westin to get into music, but whatever it is, it’s clearly something that he continues to carry very close to his heart to this very day. As a musician, a critic, and someone who considers music to be more of a religion than just a hobby, I relate to his relentless passion for expression. And based on his sudden rise to fame from obscurity, I have to conclude that I’m far from the only one.