Matt Novak
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Matt Novak

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"Where many singer/songwriters..."

"Where many singer/songwriters will often bring a post-punk darker sensibility to their take on older stylings, Novak Eschews murder ballads and drinking songs in favor of thoughtful looks at love, travel, and the ups and downs life can take. This approach to the proceedings remains compelling however, both through the spare but sweet-sounding instrumentation and Novak's considerable skills as a songwriter." - Graham Isaac, The Bellingham Weekly


"Smoking a pipe and wearing a top hat"

"Matt Novak's debut CD stands out so elegantly among similar offerings in Bellingham's bluegrass scene that it should be smoking a pipe and wearing a top hat. Ten Valley is a clean, gentle, and ultimately relaxed disc..." - Tony Stasiek, The Bellingham Herald


"Words on the table"

"Novak's vocals are sung with matter-of-fact frankness, as if just to lay the words out on the table and let the story do the talking." - Andrea Heimer, What's Up! Magazine


"Like a cup of warm tea with a shot of brandy in it by the fire..."

Like a cup of warm tea with a shot of brandy in it by the fire, it doesn't get much better than this. Well mixed, well recorded, nice balanced frequency response, technically near perfect. I am left nearly speechless by the quality of the tunes and the music. Matt successfully mined the mother lode of the American myth, brought it back, and managed to diffuse it with the soul of the Pacific Northwest, though it could've come from Nashville or North Carolina. Well enough tripping over myself, I love it. I was instantly drawn in. - R. Meme, 89.1 Mountain Community Radio


"Spare and thoughtful..."

"Spare and thoughtful, Ten Valley, will resonate with just about anyone who hears it. Matt Novak's simple rurality is rich with passion and free of pretension - as wholesome and ambitious as the summer breeze. His collection of traditional aesthetics and wistful narration are wonderfully authentic. Songs like "As The Valley Is Long" and "Hobo" yearn with a sense of inarticulate nostalgia and loss, while "Jen Marie Marigold" and "Your Love Is Home" shuffle with nonchalance - I love it!" - Ryan Hoffer - Shut Eye Records


"Matt Novak effortlessly blends..."

"Matt Novak effortlessly blends the tangled roots of American music together to achieve a solid fusion of old and new in his music." - Northwest Folklife


"Very well done..."

"'Ten Valley' by Matt Novak was released in November, but it's worth seeking out due to uncommonly strong songwriting and clever arrangements. It brings to mind Bill Frisell's brilliant "Nashville" from a few years ago, and that's a compliment. Novak's compositions take on a bit darker element than most folk records with a bluegrass touch. Novak is surrounded by a strong band as well; [all] shine throughout...Very well done."
- Craig Parrish - Bellingham Herald


""Outstanding debut album from...Matt Novak!"

"Outstanding debut album from Bellinghamster Matt Novak! With a sound and subject matter slotting in somewhere between John Prine and Louden Wainwright III, Novak should find appreciative fans everywhere. Novak's edge is in his spare arrangements - he's singing honestly and openly over just a few restrained instruments. No howling, no mewling, no affected weariness, just the startlingly clear observations of a man who knows love, friendship, labor, the road, and the weird way our plentiful times can leave folks hungering for something else." - Tom Petersen - Victory Review


"This all-originals debut from Pacific Northwest folkie Matt Novak..."

"This all-originals debut from Pacific Northwest folkie Matt Novak is a rewarding foray into traditional bluegrass-tinged mountain music and the old-timey melancholia of the songs strikes a genuine chord of truth and experience. A few upbeat songs aside, the instrumentation sounds appropriately sad and ancient; grieving harmonica, mournful plucks on banjo and mandolin, a weeping dobro and Novak’s own heavy-hearted hobo vocals all conspire for an album that may sound a bit sleepy at first but, on further listening, has much to recommend it." - Robin Cracknell, Americana UK


Discography

"Ten Valley" - released 17 November 2004

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Like the food on your table, Matt Novak emerged from the "the world's richest agricultural valley" of the San Joaquin, California, the bread basket of these United States. This valley, an expanse of cotton fields, vineyards, orange groves, and oil fields, is also the home of a great many people of varying backgrounds. The San Joaquin Valley includes half a dozen substantial cities with Fresno as the regional capital. Fresno, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is where Matt came of age. After two years of piano lessons, Matt made the transition to the guitar. Two years later, self-taught on the guitar, Matt Novak landed in Northwest Washington State.

In the last half of the last year of the twentieth century, Matt moved to Spain, and traveled throughout Europe, exploring new countries as well has his own identity as a North American. When he came back home to his home in Northwest Washington State, it was the American folk music tradition that struck him the hardest.

Matt immediately began working on his solo performances, and only four months after arriving home from Spain, had developed enough strength as a performer to form a duo with a local Whatcom County fiddler named Linda Fox. Matt's time with Linda, however, was short lived, and after eight months, dissipated. It was then that Matt called one of Washington State's finest Old-time fiddlers, Howie Meltzer, and founded the guitar/fiddle duo, the Gravel Grinders. The Gravel Grinders played together solidly for over a year before scaling back, allowing Matt to form his current four-piece acoustic string band, Quickdraw M'Graw, as well as carving out the time to write and perform his original songs. Matt continues to play with Howie off and on, and has played with Quickdraw solidly for the last three years. His solo project has steadily been taking off since the release of his debut album, Ten Valley, in November of 2004.

Matt Novak's late 2004 debut, Ten Valley, firmly places him in the ranks of contemporary American singer/songwriters. The whole album is a profound and unassuming gem among the all-too-often hasty of world of modern-day music releases. The release of Ten Valley is the culmination of two years of songwriting, and another year of recording. The final result is an album that proves the careful attention paid to every aspect of each song, never really leaving the listener, but unraveling him/her to the very core of love found and lost, quests of the spirit, parental abuse, homelessness, homecomings, the listless, jail bound, and the broken-hearted.

Ten Valley brings some of the American Pacific Northwest's finest musicians together in a sparing, delicate, and often beautiful way, creating one mellow, melodic, and beautifully melancholy song after another. Each song is delicately arranged and enriched by sparse instrumental combinations just full enough to support Matt's emotive heartfelt voice.