Matt Wilson and His Orchestra Debut Sentimental Full-Length, ‘When I Was a Writer’

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

After a several year kind of hiatus, songwriter Matt Wilson found himself in a startling and fast-moving predicament.  He was roused by the past, enabling his return to music and kickstarting his songwriting. He knew he had to work hastily before the perfect, galvanizing moment slipped through his hands. 

Wilson captured every moment he could, notating his own memories and retelling every story over the span of the ten tracks on his full-length debut When I Was a Writer.

“Circumstances had kept me away from songwriting for a few years prior to beginning work on this record,” Wilson told American Songwriter.  “When I got back to it, I hit on a lucky streak. The music and words were right there for me. I was so happy. I was always rushing down into the basement trying to catch everything I could from this gushing well.  At the same time, I had a feeling in my gut, that feeling you have when you’re with a person who’s too beautiful for you and you know it has to end.”

“From the time I started writing songs, a feeling of nostalgia filled my head, even before I was old enough to actually remember any good old days” Wilson said of his songwriting.  “My process for writing lyrics, right from the start, was to imagine backward in time and try to remember what happened, what I was feeling. Right from the beginning I was living in the past.”

When I Was a Writer is a medley of sentimentality and reflection while also uplifting songs, perfect for the tastes of the millennial generation or lovers of Elvis Costello alike.  The title track jumps in, wasting no time, into that same light-hearted nature, leading with banjo, harp and plain, effective lyrics, also incorporating pacific elements like whistling and choral-type vocals. 

The record features several additional artists essential to the album’s eclectic sound.  A staple piece to the project is the harp-work put forth by Phala Tracey, whose sound is supported by Quillan Roe on banjo, Jacques Wait on bass along with Wilson’s acoustic guitar and piano work. 

The group recorded at Wilson’s home studio, while John Fields of Creation Audio, who has worked with Soul Asylum, Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus and Switchfoot, engineered the record. Pravda Records in Chicago will release the debut on March 20. 

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