Matt Westin – Legacy LP
One of the unfortunate drawbacks of only getting to know an artist through the lens of his or her recorded work is usually the loss of the raw, authentic stage charisma that only can be found in a legitimate live performance. Bands and solo artists have been struggling for years to find a way to harness that energy, bottle it and release it within the four walls of the studio, to very little, if any, success. But nevertheless, every once in a great while there comes an artist who packs all of the punch of a mesmerizing club performer; someone whose magic and sheer talent cannot be contained within the studio, no matter how airtight it may be. Matt Westin is one of those artists.
In his new record Legacy, a ten track introduction to Westin’s own brand of country music cultivated in the soil found north of the Mason-Dixon line, we’re never made to feel like we’re listening to someone who has compressed all of their talent, all of their luster really, into a tightly packaged track that’s been polished and perfected for our mass consumption. What we do feel is all of the love, heartache, confusion and profound reflection that Westin describes in each of his stylishly produced tracks that are presented to us in crystal clear, high definition audio. Where some debut records feel like a choppy collection of varied material meant to showcase the different faces that a single artist can adopt, Legacy flows and progresses like a chapter play, unfolding details piece by piece and allowing us to imagine what exciting scene might come next.
How well a record is mixed and produced has a lot to do with how intimate and vulnerable its performer will inevitably come off, but something tells me that a bittersweet ballad like “The Road That Never Was” would be incredibly moving even if it had been recorded on an amateur cassette deck acquired in the early 90’s. No matter how you dice it, Matt Westin’s vibe can’t be smothered, and his energy cannot be dulled, even by the constraints of a studio album (which again, don’t exist for him). I’m so convinced that what we’re getting out of Legacy is as close to the real thing as we can get without seeing him in person that I’ve made a personal commitment to myself to see Westin live before the year is out, as long as his active touring schedule makes that possible for me.
Legacy might not be the record that most rock, hip-hop or pop fans would expect to be one of the more sonically influential of 2018, but in spite of that ignorance, Westin has created just that. I honestly think that his attack style serves as an excellent example of exactly what any young artist strives to yield out of their first time in a recording studio. Even if you’re not much of a country buff, do yourself a favor and check out this record when you can. You just might be surprised at how much of a country music fan you’ve really got in you, just waiting to be awakened by the smoky vocals of Matt Westin.