Buy Album: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/mattrowann/drunk-broke-lame-lonely
Band Website: https://www.mattrowann.com/
Matt Rowann – Vocals, Guitar, Bass & Keyboard,
Rob Dowsett – Drums,
Abdiel Iriarte – Piano.
1. Drunk. Broke. Lame. Lonely.
4. Crawl Away
2020 was, without wishing to state the patently bloody obvious and universally-known, a bit of a downer. Being cooped-up for the safety of ourselves and others whilst a virus plagued the world was probably not in anyone’s plans come New Year’s Eve 2019, but we all had a choice when this enforced stillness came. You can either wallow in things, or make the most of it. Musicians likely saw this as an opportunity to get stuck into their craft like never before, and that much is evident with MATT ROWANN’s staggered release, ‘Drunk. Broke. Lame. Lonely.’.
At the time of writing, three songs from the planned seven-song album have been released, whilst a fourth was granted for review, and it thoroughly whets the appetite for more. Certainly a positive for the staggered-release approach. Sporting the moodiness of grunge and gothic rock with glitterings of electronic and jazz, the four tracks sound large, weighty and impactful just where they need to be. While it may lean a little more into the moodier side of rock, ROWANN’s smooth yet earnest vocals add a pleasant levity and memorability to the fold.
The album’s title track opens proceedings with tinkling keys that almost belies the forthcoming walkthrough of what legions of people must have felt through the last twelve months. The chorus is a simple repetition of the title, but there’s an emotional heft to it that you just do not normally get from most rock songs, especially as the song reaches its climax. The added strings, not just delightful melodic dressing, add a lightness that contrasts so well with the despair beneath it. It’s the embodiment of that Friday night binge that’s gone on longer than your mates have intended and it’s all downhill from there.
It is not all super moody, however. “AMAI”, whilst a vehicle for ROWANN to “take the blame”, has a surprising bounce to it with a classic rock-inspired chorus riff. There is a slow danceability about it that should sit well in a live setting, whilst the subtle brightness that the reverb-laden melody lines give during the chorus and bridge make for an enriched listen. It is this sort of attention to detail that makes ROWANN’s music that bit more interesting than a lot of your typical rock. A further example of this is the intro to “Crawl Away”, where some post-production and synths are used to great effect, though the drop-off into, arguably, the album’s (current) lightest cut feels a touch of a let-down. That being said, the chiming, arpeggiated chords add a delightful dreamy quality almost reminiscent of ECHOSMITH.
Yet it is “Gremlin” where the album shines brightest, at the moment, and makes excellent use of careful, considered tension building to an uproarious release. Crooning vocals and fuzzy guitars welcome proceedings, with plodding, tom-heavy drumming entering latterly, all while bewitching guitar bends add a mysterious melodic charm. The pay-off for this measured approach is a huge-sounding second-half, where heavier guitars enter for a delectable cathartic hit. It calls to mind elements of CIRCLE OF DUST’s “Mesmerized”, minus the electronica in the drumming and emotional vocal delivery, and certainly when things erupt out after the long build. Whilst it may not mix things up with tempo, or be the sort of track to get bodies moving in a live setting, it hits all the right buttons for mood, emotion and musical impact.
With songs planned to be released each month, the general public will have to wait at least another four months for the finished tracklist of ‘Drunk. Broke. Lame. Lonely.’, but on the evidence of the four here, it’ll be worth the wait. MATT ROWANN’s songwriting captures the best bits of the moodier side to rock without bogging down in the darkness, with subtle melodies and choice instrumentation enhancing the listen. Aided by impeccable production, this album is ideal tonic for anyone wanting to reminisce on the events of the last few months and purge them from the system. Bring on the rest of the album.
Review by Lee Carter