Album Review

A Heartfelt Lesson in Survival

Matt Woods - How To Survive

Matt Woods is a solitary troubadour, a determined singer/songwriter who’s been steadily plotting his career forward for more than a decade. Like his earlier efforts, his new album How To Survive is a brilliant blend of resilience and remorse ably conveyed in songs that consistently find an intimate connection. In other words, these are songs sung from the heart. When Woods sings, “The heart is where the home is, and mine is in Tennessee” on the fiddle fuelled “Bound to Lose” there’s never any doubt that he means every word. Likewise, the song “Bed Sheets,” in which he reassures his lover that even though he’s leaving, it doesn’t diminish his feelings for the one he leaves behind, comes across with a sincerity that’s beyond reproach. These tender tunes are forged with both determination and desire -- rugged, sometimes weary, but never lacking the honesty and conviction so essential to that balance of credibility and confidence. Woods’ vocals can be gritty at times, a sound that reflects his undiminished resolve, even in light of circumstances that can clearly exact a toll. “The American Way,” for example, shares the sad saga of people dealt a crippling blow, yet still trying to find some relief and respite. “Tonight (Don’t Let Me Down)” takes a defeatist attitude (“Doubting myself, cursing the sun/Watching it set on this day I’ve begun”) but still tries to find some  solace even in the midst of despair. A song like “To Tell the Truth,” a slow build to an inevitable breakup, attempts to suggest some measure of compassion, even though the narrator is confronting a crushing situation. Honesty and vulnerability of this degree are a rarity these days, but given Woods’ will to survive with his emotions intact, the music he makes might just might provide inspiration for us all.