Matt Nichols

Matt Nichols

 St. Louis, Missouri, USA
BandPopSinger/Songwriter

"...Matt Nichols Band was a pleasant surprise. Their distinct sound allows them to mix folk, country and soft rock songs in one set, without losing the uniqueness of their band." -INSIDESTL

Biography

Matt Nichols is 25. Matt Nichols lives in Saint Louis, MO. Matt Nichols made an album. Matt Nichols named the album Here I Stand. You should listen to it. Okay, basics covered; let’s talk about something more important.

Matt Nichols grew up with a guitar he never heard play a song; it was his fathers. It was plucked enough to stave off the cobwebs, but it never finished what it started. All its promise lay in the unuttered howls of truncated verse, left scattered about the house. Matt was fifteen when he picked up that guitar. And he started to whisper towards that emptiness: he did not set that damn thing down until they were both humming Blackbird by the Beatles; and soon they were both singing it. Nine years later, Matt is standing on the ledge of his first album, a bucket of sins in hand, pressing a megaphone to his imperfections. People down below are starting to gather and look up; they want to see if he’s going to jump.

Matt Nichols is shin-deep in some real shit. He’s made an album full of songs he doesn’t think are finished. “Nothing’s ever finished, which makes the editing process a real bitch. I’ll come back and a song will be different, I’ll be different or we both will be”. It’s this ability to have an evolving conversation with his songs, and not demand a final-cut of them, which made this first album. “It’s not that a given song is ever finished. But I’ll discover two songs resonate with each other, and then that resonance reaches out to a third. Before long you have this dynamic interplay, and that, more than any one song, seemed worth preserving. So I did.” And the album does feel like a conversation. It’s playful and sincere; it’s a deep dark ocean crossed with a pinball machine. But more importantly, it’s Matt. Matt’s cutting at himself here; he’s bleeding onto music staffs and half-scrawled napkin verses. And there is no final cut to make. There is no definition. Like his songs, Matt is trying to create and resonate with the world around him. And it will never be done, can never be; it’s simultaneously beautiful and lonely.

And you get that sense, that he would be just as happy shouting his songs into an infinite abyss as to a crowd full of people. He’s trying to find himself, not fame and glory. There’s a blatant disregard for showmanship which bleeds through when he’s on stage, reminiscent of Joshua Radin or Elliott Smith concerts. But in that vein, there’s also something hauntingly spiritual in his single-mindedness. You’re listening to a man struggle to find his own voice, his own sense of story in an industry all too comfortable with churning out carbon copies. And he’s out to buck the trends as much as beat them at their own game: in an acoustic tradition that’s made its bones on songs that are exclusively deep, spiritual, and emotive Matt Nichols asks “Why can’t I sing a song about eggs? Eggs are great”.

And I agree with him. If you’re sad, sing it. If you’re a goof, sing it. If you’re in love, my god, why wouldn’t you sing it? And Matt does; and it’s him. He’s Damien Rice on crack surfing the undercurrents of G. Love’s inner-funk. He’s Nick Drake singing to the track marks on his arm meets Jim Morrison exposing himself to the crowd (pun intended). It’s a melody that dances you up and down the walls, while keeping you still, silent and contemplative. The album is honest. There are no fingerprints of pretense or crowd catering. It’s unadulterated in its meandering wayward steps. It’s a person put to song.

This album is a lot of things. But mostly I think it’s a settling of accounts; it’s recompense. It’s Matt making good on himself. The most resounding image I’m left with is a guitar that’s never played a tune, a broken promise incarnate. And that guitar one day being picked up and made to sing. I’m not sure if this image is a metaphor for Matt, for the album, for me or for all of us. But listening to this record, one is left with the definite sense that someone or something is taking broken wings and learning to fly.

-Written by Arthur David Gregg in the fifteen minutes following an informal discussion with Matt Nichols over margaritas and Mexican food