On one hand, his lyrics indicate a world-weary, vulnerable old-timer. His voice projects across the generations, so much so that any listener would find themselves Googling the album release date within seconds. But, at the same time, he is wholly modern. Not only in the way his Asheville folk-meets-rock sound bridges the gap between troubadours and guitar gods, but also the manner in which he conducts his business. His new LP, named after his full band, Matt Townsend & the Wonder of the World, is a product of crowd-funding through IndieGoGo, drawing on friends and fans, and also kicking a little back to Arts For Life, an organization that uses music as therapy for people suffering from disabilities or illness.
So, you see, Matt Townsend is actually a good conundrum. Even better when you take a listen to his album. First track “Seventh Story” will sound familiar to fans of the Band in its modulations and simple arrangement, and is probably the most accessible on the album. Moving through the grittier “Hollow City Streets,” the sweet-sounding “Wind Without Rain,” and the Dylan-esque “Desire Like a Lion,” the collection reflects a perspective on modern folk drawn more from Phil Ochs than Marcus Mumford. The recurring thought from track to track is that this is an artist completely poised to break through; this is exactly the guy who could bring folk back to the Newport Folk Festival. Big things are coming for him, and it’s our pleasure to sit back and watch.
As Townsend himself says, “To me, creating art is ultimately about serving others. It is taking our individual experience and expression and giving it to the world in hopes that the world may better understand itself, or at least, feel something.”