The Rentals front man and founding weezer member, Matt Sharp has released a bold and astonishing debut solo album through Boompa Records.
Ten years after the landmark release of weezer’s self-titled debut (The Blue Album), one of the most influential records of the nineties, and 5 years after The Rentals celebratory Seven More Minutes, the charismatic bassist and front man, Matt Sharp, breaks his musical silence and delivers a sparse, hauntingly beautiful acoustic record.
Five years ago, at the height of his creative output, Sharp mysteriously left the music world. As with his disappearance, so is his return: surprising and courageous. The bold and sensuous sound of Matt Sharp, with its potent silences and eerie aural textures, is worlds apart from the bubbly synth-pop that gave birth to his early success.
The Rentals and weezer it ain’t.
What it is, is beautifully understated music that creates an almost spiritual feeling for the listener, a collection of deeply personal songs, backed only by sparse musical accompaniment, that invite an extreme intimacy and a real sense of honesty.
This is Sunday Morning Music.
Sharp’s new found inspiration comes by way of Leipers Fork, Tennessee, a small country town seemingly untouched and lost in time. It is here, where Sharp retreated to work in the kind of studio isolation unheard of in popular music.
“I received a call from an old acquaintance. She heard that I’d been looking for a place that was far away from everyone, a place to think, a place to breathe, a place to write and record some very slow and sad music. It was a strange and dark time in my life.” - M.S. ‘04
From its inception through its completion, Sharp was always accompanied by one of his three main collaborators, each leaving their indelible mark on the three distinct stages of the record’s evolution.
Engineer and ambient artist, Josh Hager supplied the initial spark and courage to pack a van full of equipment as the two set off into the uncharted territory of the initial recordings. British producer, Andy Wilkinson set the foundation during the heart of the record’s arrangements and early mixes. And finally, guitarist and longtime friend Greg Brown’s unwavering loyalty provided the strength to carry the record through to its completion.
The choral tranquility of Sharp’s debut allows for plenty of room for the lyrics to breathe and the words to fully echo in the mind. In the album’s opener “All Those Dreams”, a near motionless piano slowly gives way to a dim-lit instrumentation with Sharp’s vocal asking: “Did all those dreams turn out the way they should be?”. In “Watch The Weather Break”, the album’s centerpiece, an atmospheric soundscape surrounds a stream of questions that drift through the loose melodic structure. As the album nears its close, with a sense of resignation, Sharp exhales “For all your sadness searching what can you show?” (Before You Go) Reoccurring themes of fear, regret, and a search for identity run throughout the album’s fragile beauty. There is a rare thoughtfulness here that is its own reward.
Boompa Records has come forward to stand up and champion this organic piece of music they know is heavily at odds with the commercial charts - where instant success is everything - feeling strongly that this collection of songs will be valued long after such superficial thrills are forgotten.
CUT TO: Wednesday, March 10th 2004
Matt, alone onstage, ten years after the initial release of The Blue Album, alone with nothing but a few acoustic guitars during a solo concert at New York University. There is a maturity, and simple, understated tone that translates perfectly in the stripped down and intimate performance. What we find is a man standing outside of the shadow of his early pop success, someone who is comfortable in his own skin, someone who does not pretend to have found the answers, but has discovered a joy in finding his own voice.
This is Matt Sharp, in black and white and close-up.