Matt Roach
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Matt Roach

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""BORROWED TIME" REVIEW"

Matt Roach is a curious artist. His Borrowed Time CD is a highly personal collection of songs, which – if I understand the liner notes correctly – he recorded entirely by himself. He even admits that this is “low-tech.” But if you only hear this disc’s technical limitations, you’ll completely miss its overwhelming charm.

Roach’s greatest skill is the ability to create intriguing story songs. For instance, “The Desire to Live” begins by talking about the oldest woman in the world, who was/is something like 113 years old. But instead of dwelling on this woman’s long life, Roach uses the occasion to consider how much life truly means, if it even means much at all, once the desire to live is gone. Another intriguing track is titled “Call Your Mom." No, this is not one of those Mother’s Day phone company ads, put to song. Instead, Roach sings about doing more than just calling your mother; he carries it further and suggests that sons/daughters make an extra effort to spend quality time with their mothers.

There are a fair number of love-gone-bad songs on this disc, too. “A Husband’s Daydream” imagines ways to escape an unhealthy marriage; “Is This What Happens To Love?” is a little like that Peggy Lee song ("Is That All There Is?") because it finds Roach looking at a love relationship and wondering, ‘Is this it?; “I Knew You Well” investigates why couples so often argue.

This CD is nearly as stripped down, sonically, as an old folk album. Many of these tracks feature only Roach’s voice, his electric guitar, and harmonica. One striking exception to this approach is “We’re Still in Love," which adds bass and minimalist piano. Granted, this is by no means a grand orchestration. But when placed next to the rest of these tracks, it’s pretty fancy.

While there’s no denying the attractiveness of Roach’s stories, his way with words sometimes gets the better of him. During “The Whole-Hearted Man” and others, Roach tries too hard to squeeze too many words into his phrases. He’d be much better off, I think, making his lyrics more concise and to the point. This would allow his songs to flow so much better.

I can well understand why Roach made this “low tech” CD. He did it to please himself, instead of trying to wow the music industry. Nevertheless, he may want to consider letting a few seasoned session players onto his next recording. He can do this without also compromising his artistic values -- especially if they help spice up his already fine songs. He may not be a polished singer/songwriter (yet), but Borrowed Time reveals Matt Roach be a voice well worth hearing.
- IndieMusic.com


"Vocals and Chords"

Matt Roach was a teenager when he started an original sketch comedy group that he describes as "Saturday Night Live, but funny."
As part of the group — called Jim’s Prom Picture, Inc. — he wrote 100 or so comedy songs and performed in local theaters. While the comedy group ended after about eight years, his interest in music continued.
"I said, ‘I have a bunch of comedy songs, so let me write a bunch of regular songs,’" he recalled.
In the early days, he played at coffeehouses and open microphone nights.
Today, Roach’s music career continues. In fact, the 34-year-old singer-songwriter from Bustleton is really looking forward to a couple of upcoming gigs.
On Wednesday, July 26, he’ll be performing at the Tin Angel, at 20 S. Second St. in Old City. That’s the place he’s seen so many acts play, and now he’s headlining.
"It’s like my Wachovia Center," he said.
On Aug. 26, he’ll be the opening act for Marshall Crenshaw at the Sellersville Theater in Bucks County. He’s a longtime fan of Crenshaw’s and owns all of his albums. He opened for him in April in Syracuse.
"I’d be there anyway," he said of the show in Sellersville. "Plus, I get to see his show."
Roach, a soloist and self-taught acoustic guitar player, describes his sound this way: "It’s kind of band songs without a band."
A longtime Mayfair resident who attended St. Bernard School and Father Judge High School (Class of 1990), Roach has had numerous jobs over the years. He’s been a waiter, bartender, medical assistant, roofer, hospital orderly and even a ballroom dance instructor, a job that is mentioned in one of his songs.
For a couple of years, he studied religion at Temple University.
Finally, he realized he wasn’t a 9-to-5 kind of guy.
Instead, he likes playing in front of audiences big or small. He likes entertaining and watching people have fun.
"There’s no better feeling than to hear applause and laughs," he said. "That’s what fuels me."
Roach doesn’t have an agent or manager. He books his own shows, up to seven a month. He’s so busy that he doesn’t have much time to rehearse or write songs.
He thanks his family and fiancee, Jolanta Szweda, for all their support and help.
Playing live music is the easy part of his job.
Highlights so far have included appearances at World Café Live in University City and the Tin Angel. He’s humbled and appreciative to be able to play at venues like that.
"Everyone wants to play there," he said.
Like many artists, Roach is a music purist. He wishes the industry was all about music and not about how many fans are in front of the stage to please promoters.
"I could be onstage singing ‘blah, blah, blah,’ but if I have five-hundred people, they’re happy," he said.
Right now, Roach has about 400 songs in his repertoire, more than enough to go on tour.
"If Madonna takes me on tour, I would go," he said.
Having so many songs, Roach is hopeful of getting some airtime on local radio stations like WXPN (88.5 FM). If listeners hear his songs, they’re more likely to see him play. Right now, his music is being played on the radio — in Belgium.
"God bless the Belgians, but I’m not touring Belgium at the present time," he said.
All of those songs are album-ready, too. Producing and promoting an album, though, costs a lot of money.
Still, he’s released two albums within the last year.
Last summer, it was a 10-song collection titled What Could Have Been . . .
Last Christmas, it was The Santa Songs, a five-song set. He played 11 shows during the holiday season.
The albums are available at his shows and on his Web site, www.mattroachmusic.com
Like his comedy sketches, all of Roach’s music is original. He doesn’t like cover tunes, reasoning that the original artists can do a much better job than he can on their own songs.
Still, many concert-goers like cover tunes.
"You have people yelling ‘Free Bird,’ but I wouldn’t learn it if I could," he said.
Roach’s music collection includes up-tempo tunes, thought-provoking sad songs and comedy bits.
"I try to mix it up," he said.
His comedy songs are mostly lighthearted, though some are raunchy.
"If it makes me laugh, I’ll write it," the musician said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twaring@phillynews.com
- The Northeast Times


"Matt Roach is The Good Humor Man"

Matt Roach was a teenager when he started an original sketch comedy group that he describes as "Saturday Night Live, but funny."
As part of the group — called Jim’s Prom Picture, Inc. — he wrote 100 or so comedy songs and performed in local theaters. While the comedy group ended after about eight years, his interest in music continued.
"I said, ‘I have a bunch of comedy songs, so let me write a bunch of regular songs,’" he recalled.
In the early days, he played at coffeehouses and open microphone nights.
Today, Roach’s music career continues. In fact, the 34-year-old singer-songwriter from Bustleton is really looking forward to a couple of upcoming gigs.
On Wednesday, July 26, he’ll be performing at the Tin Angel, at 20 S. Second St. in Old City. That’s the place he’s seen so many acts play, and now he’s headlining.
"It’s like my Wachovia Center," he said.
On Aug. 26, he’ll be the opening act for Marshall Crenshaw at the Sellersville Theater in Bucks County. He’s a longtime fan of Crenshaw’s and owns all of his albums. He opened for him in April in Syracuse.
"I’d be there anyway," he said of the show in Sellersville. "Plus, I get to see his show."
Roach, a soloist and self-taught acoustic guitar player, describes his sound this way: "It’s kind of band songs without a band."
A longtime Mayfair resident who attended St. Bernard School and Father Judge High School (Class of 1990), Roach has had numerous jobs over the years. He’s been a waiter, bartender, medical assistant, roofer, hospital orderly and even a ballroom dance instructor, a job that is mentioned in one of his songs.
For a couple of years, he studied religion at Temple University.
Finally, he realized he wasn’t a 9-to-5 kind of guy.
Instead, he likes playing in front of audiences big or small. He likes entertaining and watching people have fun.
"There’s no better feeling than to hear applause and laughs," he said. "That’s what fuels me."
Roach doesn’t have an agent or manager. He books his own shows, up to seven a month. He’s so busy that he doesn’t have much time to rehearse or write songs.
He thanks his family and fiancee, Jolanta Szweda, for all their support and help.
Playing live music is the easy part of his job.
Highlights so far have included appearances at World Café Live in University City and the Tin Angel. He’s humbled and appreciative to be able to play at venues like that.
"Everyone wants to play there," he said.
Like many artists, Roach is a music purist. He wishes the industry was all about music and not about how many fans are in front of the stage to please promoters.
"I could be onstage singing ‘blah, blah, blah,’ but if I have five-hundred people, they’re happy," he said.
Right now, Roach has about 400 songs in his repertoire, more than enough to go on tour.
"If Madonna takes me on tour, I would go," he said.
Having so many songs, Roach is hopeful of getting some airtime on local radio stations like WXPN (88.5 FM). If listeners hear his songs, they’re more likely to see him play. Right now, his music is being played on the radio — in Belgium.
"God bless the Belgians, but I’m not touring Belgium at the present time," he said.
All of those songs are album-ready, too. Producing and promoting an album, though, costs a lot of money.
Still, he’s released two albums within the last year.
Last summer, it was a 10-song collection titled What Could Have Been . . .
Last Christmas, it was The Santa Songs, a five-song set. He played 11 shows during the holiday season.
The albums are available at his shows and on his Web site, www.mattroachmusic.com
Like his comedy sketches, all of Roach’s music is original. He doesn’t like cover tunes, reasoning that the original artists can do a much better job than he can on their own songs.
Still, many concert-goers like cover tunes.
"You have people yelling ‘Free Bird,’ but I wouldn’t learn it if I could," he said.
Roach’s music collection includes up-tempo tunes, thought-provoking sad songs and comedy bits.
"I try to mix it up," he said.
His comedy songs are mostly lighthearted, though some are raunchy.
"If it makes me laugh, I’ll write it," the musician said. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twaring@phillynews.com
- Northeast Times (Philadelphia, Pa)


Discography

What Could Have Been... (Cd Released in 2005. "Next Ex-Girl and Let's Make Love, Like We're Strangers both received Radio Play in the US and Overseas)

The Santa Songs EP (EP Released in 2005. ALL 5 SONGS HAVE RECEIVED RADIO PLAY IN THE U.S. AND EUROPE)

Borrowed Time (CD Released on June 22, 2007)
(ABOUT 10 SONGS HAVE RECEIVED RADIO PLAY IN THE U.S. AND EUROPE)

Photos

Bio

WELL, HERE'S WHERE I TELL YOU A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MYSELF. AT LEAST THE THINGS I'M NOT TOO EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT. I
WILL DO MY BEST TO BE TRUTHFUL. YOU WON'T FIND ANY "BEEFED UP" RESUMES HERE. SO, YOU WON'T HEAR ME SAY I DID THE
SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW OR HAD AN AUDIENCE WITH THE POPE. UNLESS, OF COURSE, THOSE EVENTS TAKE PLACE. SO,
HERE IT GOES. I BEGAN AS A QUASI-COMEDIAN. WHEN I WAS 15 YEARS OLD I STARTED THE SKETCH COMEDY GROUP "JIM'S
PROM PICTURE INC." IT WAS LIKE SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE BUT, FUNNY!!! DURING THE NEXT 8 YEARS THE GROUP PLAYED ALL
OVER THE PHILADELPHIA AREA. WE PLAYED THE WALNUT ST. THEATER, SHUBIN THEATER, BRICK PLAYHOUSE, CHEZ LABELLE,
CLUB HP, ACTORS PLAYHOUSE AT THE BOURSE, ETC. THE ETC. INCLUDES ALL THE OLD AGE HOME AND RECORD STORES WE
PLAYED. OVER THE 8 YEARS I WROTE AND DIRECTED OVER 200 SKETCHES. I ACTED, IN THE SKETCHES, WITH AN ARRAY OF
TALENTED TO SEMI-TALENTED PERFORMERS. DURING THIS TIME I BEGAN WRITING COMEDY SONGS TO PERFORM, ALONG WITH
THE SKETCHES. I FORMED THE GROUP "FESTER HITCHCOCK AND THE MONKEY MAN" THE GROUP WAS BASICALLY ME AND MIKE
TAIT, WHO WAS ALSO A MEMBER OF THE SKETCH GROUP. AFTER THE SKETCH GROUP ENDED IN 1997, I STARTED TO
CONCENTRATE ON WRITING MUSIC. I HAD OVER 100 COMEDY SONGS. BUT, I NEEDED TO ADD MORE "REAL SONGS" I BEGAN
WRITING AND PERFORMING MY ORIGINAL SONGS AT LOCAL COFFEE HOUSES AND OPEN MIC NIGHTS I KEPT WRITING AND, NOW, I
HAVE OVER 400 SONGS. SOME FUNNY, SOME SAD, SOME FAST, SOME SLOW. BUT, EACH IS DEFINITELY ORIGINAL. I WON'T PLAY
ANY COVER SONGS. I NEVER TAUGHT MYSELF ANY BECAUSE THE ORIGINAL ARTIST WOULD PERFORM THE SONG MUCH BETTER
THEN I EVER COULD. I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO PERFORM ON A REGULAR BASIS. I’VE PLAYED THROUGHOUT THE
EAST COAST. INCLUDING WORLD CAFÉ LIVE AND THE TIN ANGEL IN MY HOMETOWN OF PHILADELPHIA. PLUS, MANY OTHER
STOPS ALONG THE EAST COAST. I HAVE RECEIVED RADIO PLAY IN THE U.S. AND EUROPE AND SEVERAL “TRACK OF THE DAY”
AWARDS ON GARAGEBAND.COM. I HAVE OPENED FOR HAMELL ON TRIAL, STEVE POLTZ, STEVE FORBERT, ASYLUM STREET
SPANKERS AND OPENED THREE TIMES FOR MARSHALL CRENSHAW. MY LIVE SHOWS ARE ALWAYS FUN EXPERIENCES. I LOVE
INTERACTING WITH THE AUDIENCE. I LIKE KEEPING THEM GUESSING BY SWITCHING MY SONGS FROM HAPPY TO SAD AND, THEN,
BACK AGAIN