Matt Jennings
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Matt Jennings

Band World Singer/Songwriter

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"Music Picks Oct. 11, 2007"

By Jamie Gadette

“I’m a globe trekker, always trekking the globe, all on my own,” Matt Jennings explains, letting down easy the ladies who might hope to tag along. The singer/songwriter experienced an awakening of sorts while studying in Mexico, then teaching English in South China and Thailand, soaking up new cultures not unlike most daydreaming 20-somethings who “take a year off” to backpack around the world. But while Jennings has a perpetual case of wanderlust, he’s trained his professional sights on a solid music career. This is a very good thing if you dig stripped-down acoustics and straightforward melodies delivered with bilingual passion. Spanish guitar adds a saucy edge to his humorous, Jimmy Buffet narratives and Jack Johnson campfire appeal. Jennings might be a freebird, but for at least tonight he’s all ours.

http://www.cityweekly.net/utah/article-5941-music-picks-oct-11-17.html - Salt Lake City Weekly


"Matt Jennings: The Other Brother"

Folk artist Matt Jennings is singing a different tune from his big-time sibling Mason
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By Andrea Swensson
Published on August 04, 2008

It's difficult to discuss local singer-songwriter Matt Jennings without bringing up his sibling, so we may as well get it over with: Jennings's older brother, Mason, is kind of a big deal. Throughout his 10-plus-year career, Mason Jennings has followed a trajectory that most local folk singers only dream about, selling hundreds of thousands of albums and touring the country with the likes of Modest Mouse and, most recently, Jack Johnson. The more people hear Mason Jennings, it seems, the more fans he gathers.

But it wasn't always record deals and sold-out summer festivals for Mason Jennings. In fact, there was a time when his music career appeared quite similar to his brother Matt's, playing all of the instruments on his albums and performing for modest-sized crowds at the 400 Bar. Even the two brothers' voices carry similarities: Although Matt's swoop is less pronounced, both singers curve their voices around the ends of lyrical passages to give their melodies a smooth drawl.

"A lot of people know who I am now because I'm his brother," Matt says of Mason. He speaks softly and seriously, and maintains a deadpan expression even when joking. "The name is already familiar with a lot of people—although I get Waylon Jennings a lot more down South. They always ask about that. 'You have a famous name, who is it? It's Waylon! It's Waylon.' And I'm like, 'No, I'm not related to Waylon. Do you know Mason Jennings?' And they're like, 'No, I've never heard of him.'"

The brothers Jennings grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and learned how to write songs together at a young age. With Matt writing guitar riffs and Mason composing lyrics, the two would record their songs onto an old Radio Shack tape recorder. When their family relocated to Minnesota in 1996, Mason started up a band and Matt, fresh out of high school, gigged as his first drummer.

"We used to play at the 400 Bar, when the Tuesday night gigs started," Matt says. "I was playing drums for him, and then I went to study abroad in Mexico. He got a new drummer, and that's when the ball started rolling [for Mason]. Right before it all blew up, I was playing drums." He looks down in a moment of contemplation. It's clear he's told this story before, and that he is used to answering questions about his brother.

Though Jennings spent only two and a half months studying in Mexico, something about that trip—and that time in his life—has stuck with him ever since. On his second album, Todavía (which translates as "still," as in: Is she still talking about Mason Jennings?), he sings half of the songs in Spanish, and a sense of romantic reverie is threaded throughout the tracks.

Jennings says his favorite part about living in Mexico was interacting with the musicians. "When I first got down there, the first bus ride was a city bus, and there was a guy in the back playing guitar. Like full volume. I was thinking maybe they had that on every bus for entertainment or something. Or just to make money. It was the only time I saw it, but that really blew my mind," he says. "And they always had mariachi on the street. It was so integral."

Even when he is singing in Spanish, however, Jennings's Latin influences are more of an undercurrent than a focus on Todavía. His guitar work is subtle and textured, balancing classical arpeggios and folk-inspired finger picking, and his voice is gentle and calm. "Slow-Motion" is an ode to a quiet day that recalls a delicate lullaby, while "Unrequited," "The Way That I Have Loved You" and "Así es la Vida" (translation: "Such is Life") reflect with a humble detachment on lovers lost and heartbreaks endured.

Ultimately, the defining element in Jennings's music is his intricate songwriting. His melodies are constructed with a seemingly innate knack for structure and phrasing, and his songs are easily recognized after their first rotation. Jennings says his best songs are written in a matter of minutes, and that the songs he can recall the easiest are likely to be his most accessible.

"I like hit songs," he says. "For me, it seems like that's the whole point: to make a hit song that a lot of people can relate to." - City Pages


"Matt Jennings - Two Become One"

By Nick Leet

What is this? It's acoustic reggae island music. Hmmm...my brain is wired to not like acoustic reggae island music. I really did not want to like this record. I tried to will myself into not liking this record. I sat for hours on my porch pondering just what it would mean if I liked this record. Truth be told, I like this record.

Matt Jennings is an outstanding guitar player. He has vast instrumental chops that usually mean extreme overplaying. In his case it's just isn't so. Every part he plays fits perfectly into the context of his laid back songs. The playing on the album sounds like a well-rehearsed band, which makes it all the more thrilling to see he played all instruments on the album except upright bass, which was handled by Chris Morrissey.

Songs such as When Two Become One and Two Faces highlight the album with straight ahead lyrics that you can relate to. Globetrekker is a story about someone who can't be tied down because they're constantly on the move, which seems to be the story of Jennings after reading his bio about his time living in China where he taught English and expanded his musical and cultural palate.

Jennings enlisted Chad Weis at Devils Workshop Sound Studio (Murzik, Red Phone Dispatch) for engineering and mixing duties and it was a good move. The sparse sound is inviting and would make great listening on an afternoon on the porch or on your cd player at the office. I recommend this disc! - Rift Magazine


"CD Review - Matt Jennings - Todavia"

By Kaleb Bronson, Sep. 10, 2009

He should be known as a musical conquistador, Matt Jennings new record Todavia is a unshakable album with a sound that gathers the Spanish caravan of delicate strums, lyrics and inquisition into the era of intermingled language barriers.
Whether the ear has a taste for lyrics sung in Spanish or not, Jennings has a charm on his newest album that allows the ear to float along with the style. The album is a combination of languages derived from Latin transfused with calming words about living life at ease.

Jennings, who is not new to the musical family, with his brother Mason Jennings always supporting this man of substantial musical glamour.
Throughout the pages of the album, Jennings opens his heart on “The Way That I Have Loved You,” which tells the tale of a man who loses his love to another man. The pacifying pace of the track lets the listener feel the broken heart through each strum of the guitar.

The album is lain out in an alleviating order, from the first few tracks being sung in Spanish, then moving onto English lyrical solace and then he finishes the album with a Spanish/English cool-off.

“It’s not that I don’t know how to swim, just for some reason, I just keep on floating,” Jennings synchronically sings within “I’m Floating,” a track showing the wandering mind of a musician.

From the Spanish musical armada intro to the blended finale track “Asi Es La Vida,” Matt Jennings shows that his voice, disposition and euphonious style is beautifully stark within the unmitigated album Todavia. - Rift Magazine


Discography

Two Become One (2005) EP
Todavia (2008) EP - distributed through Koch Distribution.

Photos

Bio

After a nine-month long weekly showcase at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis every Thursday in 2004, Matt Jennings self-released his first CD Two Become One. In support of this album he toured around the US for the next few years playing venues such as Hotel Café in LA, Belly Up in San Diego, The Living Room in NYC, and First Avenue in Minneapolis.

In 2008 he self-released his second CD Todavia, which featured a mixture of both his English and Spanish songs. Todavia has since been distributed worldwide through Koch Distribution. He went on a nationwide tour in the spring of 2008 with Australia’s The Beautiful Girls. They played venues such as The Independent in SF, Doug Fir in Portland, El Mocambo in Toronto, Schubas in Chicago, and Stubbs BBQ in Austin.

He has since been working on his new album while playing shows around the country.

He has shared the stage with The Beautiful Girls, Smog, Forro In The Dark, his brother Mason Jennings, along with many other acts.