Sitting blissfully listening to Matt Baumann’s new record The Ivory in the Narrows I went through a carousel of emotions and feelings. All of which got me excited to do this review for him. Matt Baumann reached out and asked me to review his new record The Ivory in the Narrows which he recorded with the incomparable Jeremy Smart on electric guitar. It is just the two of them. Simple in its form yes, complexity in the lyrics, yes. A few years ago, I may have reviewed one of Matt’s records, I’m not sure, but I listened. I’ve seen him live a bunch of times as well. What has always struck me about Matt are his lyrics. The poetry in their feeling, their simplicity and complexity, and his lyrics all draw me in like a deer in the headlights. Then everything gets put down and shut off and the listening commences.
Through my first go around listening I just love the sonics. Matt’s acoustic guitar and Jeremy’s electric guitar blend seamlessly. Effortlessly moreover. They never overpower one another they just live side by side to each other. My second and then every listen thereafter is me chasing Matt’s lyrics. I’m never in search of meaning behind them, but I am for myself. Matt’s songwriting has a complexity to it. His lyrics aren’t so straight forward, and yet they are. They made me think of my own life and self. The paths I’ve taken. Sometimes self-deprecating and that’s okay. The carousel. I related a lot to the lyrics in this record more so than I was expecting. Although I had no expectations and was pleasantly surprised at how much a lot of the words were ringing true within my own self.
The opening track acts more like a prologue to what it is you are about to hear. Matt’s vivid imagery feels at times like paintings or scenes from a novel, and with this opening poetic. The songs like any painting or piece of art, or piece of poetry simply make you think. That’s where the complexity comes in. Because while being completely honest in his storytelling there is also some mystery. I heard a musician once say “always leave them wanting more” he heard that from someone else, and that person I can’t remember their name, but regardless Matt I believe is doing this in some of his songs. Yet at that same time in a song like “St. Anthony” he sings “I think I’ll drown in my simplicity.” His songs are like pockets that hold a few things all at once. Sometimes they make sense, and sometimes while making sense they could simply be a metaphor for something else. All the while I am left completely assuming. These are the feelings that I get as I have listened over and over and over again.
Cloaked in a mystery that only he holds the key to unlock, and this listener prefers it that way. Matt is many things in these songs from the roads he’s literally driven to get here and the metaphorical ones. All this life is played out in his songs, and I enjoy listening to the songs. The sensation that is sweeping his basement in Matt Baumann put together twelve tracks at just under an hour. Each track telling a story to a life that Matt is in, or was in, or all of that at the same time. Matt’s honesty within himself plays out on these tracks. At times self-deprecating, and at most all the times introspective. His poetry reigns like a glass crown and smiles over all the tracks. I think that is why I have enjoyed this record so much. I hope folks take a listen to this record, because in simple words it’s just, good.