Go ahead and add this to the music you should have known of yesterday. W recently came across the 12-track studio album “Dancing After Dark” from Milwaukee based singer/songwriter Jay Matthes. Listening to the album, it’s hard to even know where to begin in describing the sound. The first inclination is to call it a country or Americana album but there are surprises along the way including hints of R&B and Rock ‘N Roll. The collection of songs is as though Jay Matthes could open up for acts ranging from Zac Brown to Dave Matthews and he would fit right in. Aside from the extremely mature sound and lyrical content, the album is a positive boost of energy. Every song is performed with the conviction you would find in a gospel song and you know that Matthes is coming from a genuine place with his music.
The album opens with a track that may just be a “gospel” song for some, “Drinking from the Bottle” is a Texas style shuffle of a love that got away and a man turning to… well… the bottle. And while the full band backs up Jay throughout the album, there is a break in this song that gives the listener a moment of Jay and the acoustic guitar. It is short and sweet but enough to prove that production is not masking any lack of talent. Matthes has real talent and that small break feels as though catching him in a dim-lit neighborhood bar with a tip jar on a stool is likely to provide the same feeling you might get listening to the studio album.
“Golden” is probably our favorite record on the album. It opens with a Dave Matthews-esque riff with an uplifting energy to the song. It’s also the track that made us say… “yep, this dude is from the Midwest.” Modesty, appreciation for what you have, all come together in this song. It’s been the song lately to start our days and breaths a little life into you.
The first single isn’t far behind in the favorites list, “Bees and Chicken” is a familiar theme of leaving it all behind for the countryside. The song feels new. While we are no stranger to the theme, this track really makes you want to do it. With a full Midwestern summer on the horizon, this one has gone to the top of the “Cottage Playlist” as one that makes you want to drink a cold beer while floating down the river soaking up the sun, not a damn thing on your mind but who can toss you another Leinie Light.
Dancing After Dark is easily played all the way through and when you think Jay is slowing down, you’re hit with the blues based track “Left The Yard” which, besides just being a great song, has a “live” feel to it. It’s the track that we think gives us a proper glimpse into what being front row at a Jay Matthes show might feel like. In the first 10 seconds you can almost hear him introducing the band, wrapping up with a “….and I’m Jay Matthes from Milwaukee, WI.”
The title of the album hits hard when the track by the same name starts to play. The acoustic, melodic track “Dancing AfterDark” will make a tear come to the eye of any man. If you have experienced the loss of a close friend or family member, just brace yourself for this one and really listen to the lyrics and the feeling in this song. It is songs like this that make artists like Matthes a cut above the rest. Jay can take a moment in time, that many people experience, pull it all in and release those feelings with words to comfort not only himself but those who find themselves in that moment and look to escape, if only for 3 minutes.
There is no doubt that Milwaukee crowds have had a talent on their hands on the verge of something great. In our experience, an album this well-crafted, this versatile will open the flood gates and we are proud to call him one of our own.
To get your hands on the full album click the “buy” button on the player above and be sure to follow Jay Matthes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Most importantly, spread the word, go to shows and support the art. Dancing After Dark is an album that shows what blood, sweat and tears can produce and artists like Jay Matthes are continued proof that the Midwest is home to some of the most authentic music out there today.