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Album review: Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World

Matt Townsend
Matt Townsend
Courtesy of IMP

It’s tough to thrive in the folk rock scene these days. There isn’t even a folk category on iTunes. However, the revival of folk music by artists such as Seattle’s own Fleet Foxes and The Head and the Heart keeps the door ajar for other folk artists out there trying to make a name for themselves.

One such artist is Matt Townsend, a singer/songwriter from Burlington, VT. The debut self-titled album from Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World has a dreamy, slightly hippie vibe. He has said that he is “inspired by strange dreams and visions,” and the “precarious beauty of human life,” but the inspiration of Bob Dylan is what is really obvious here. Twinges of Neil Young can be heard as well, such as on “Desire Like A Lion,” but let’s be clear that Townsend has developed his own intimate sound.

Matt has a nasal but clear voice that is showcased nicely on “Seventh Story,” a rousing track made complete with harmonica, organ, and a catchy chorus. Another standout is “The Garden Where The Grass Forever Grows.” This track features Matt alone and is one of the more whimsical songs on the album, containing bohemian lyrics like “stars and a crystal stone” and “sparkles through your ribbons and your bows.”

Matt began writing songs in 2008 and performing them in coffeehouses and on the streets of his hometown. In 2012 he released an acoustic EP titled “What Light Shall Be” to positive reviews. Now based in Asheville, NC, Matt has put together a band that gives his music a richer, fuller sound.

Thanks to the help of a crowdfunding campaign, Matt released Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World on June 23 on Eternal Mind Records. It can be heard in its entirety at Soundcloud and it is available for purchase on iTunes. For updates regarding tours, follow Matt Townsend on his Facebook or Twitter page.