The first offering is 'Acoustic Guitars', an upbeat R&B tune with sticky fingered guitars, four on the floor drums, and a bass that just won't quit. Between shots of Motown horns Mattie sings, "Confident guys don't tend to hide behind Acoustic Guitars" and he knows from experience.
'Acoustic Guitars' sees Mattie stepping back into that blue eyed soul sound he explored with his 2019 Double A-side Single, 'When Love Is Strong/Caught Up'.
CAN'T HIDE THE LONELY
The second single is the catchy ‘Can’t Hide The Lonely’, an acoustic folk shuffle that sounds like it could have been a lost track off of Rubber Soul. Mattie explains the lyrics, “When you’re heart is broken and you’re trying to hide the pain you might THINK you’re doing a good job but everyone can see you’re struggling.”
You can hold a smile for a couple frames / but you can’t hide the lonely
The next offering is title track, 'Backroad Medicine', a folk rock gem about unplugging and getting away from the digital noise. The acoustic guitars, mandolin, rim shot drums, and lead guitar lines all work together to make it feel like a long drive through the Rocky Mountains in the middle of July. The song evokes classics by John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot but is uniquely “Mattie” with those beautiful three part harmonies.
maybe if I leave my phone inside / and step out to the UV light / maybe I can start to heal inside / surrounded by some natural things.
The next big single, Marigold, is an exuberant burst of harmonies, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and toms. Lyrically the song is from the perspective of someone that’s passed away, insisting that their loved ones need not worry because they’re still around; painting the sunset and hanging stars in the night sky. It lifts off and doesn’t come back down until the cheers of Mark Howard (Producer) and the band are heard celebrating a “perfect” take.
Every morning when the sun starts rising / I’ll be painting you a new horizon / colours that explode / into marigold / showing you that I never let you go
Inspired by the Flint water crisis and written about the corners of the US and Canada that are left behind, the next single, Michigan, plays like a movie. This musical stomp takes a note from the Springsteen playbook…keep the focus on the lyrics and tell the truth.
This country’s in a nosedive / and everybody’s afraid / I’m running out of healthy things to use for pain / addicted to the medicine I can’t afford to take
The focus track on the album, Common Ground, is a hymn about finding just that in a world that is terribly divided. It starts quietly with a simple organ and vocal but by the end it’s an eruption of electric guitars and tribal drums. The last few years has pulled people apart and this song is a reminder that we have more in common than we think, regardless of what social media feeds us.
The world is working / against you and me / it pulls us to the fringes and extremes / I can barely recognize you now / so we need to find some common ground