Matt Pryor – May Day

Rating: ★★★½ ·

I’ll admit that there’s definitely a soft spot in my heart for Matt Pryor, though I was less than enthralled with his last effort with former band The Get Up Kids.  Yet, despite that misstep, he’s always had a great ability to craft songs with lyrics that somehow find attachment to my heart. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s been warming his way into our hearts from the get-go, and May Day is just another example of his perfectly executed work.

“Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down” opens the record, and the title alone should make it a timeless song, as we’ve all been in those shoes.  But, what really stuck out to me is the rough quality of the recording that’s present.  It sets the tone for May Day, providing listeners with a personal experience that’s both raw and beautiful.  “The Lies Are Keeping Me Here” similarly accomplishes the same note, particularly when Pryor’s vocals strain in the middle track.  You’ve got to appreciate a singer who’s willing to give his all on the microphone and his music.

While Matt Pryor’s work of the last few years has definitely held a hint of melancholy, he’ll craft a nice little ditty to catch you in its hooks.  Such a song is exemplified in “Where Do We Go From Here,” a song that features a playful piano line that works its way behind a nicely strummed guitar.  I think he even makes a nod to “worse for the wear,” which old Pryor fans will surely recognize (I hope!).  For the most part, this is about as bright a moment as you’ll find lurking on the album, as the rest takes on a rather serious tone.

Still, one of the things fans of Matt’s solo work will appreciate is his ability to really step outside our expectations with inclusions of multiple instruments on his solo outings, such as harmonica, banjo and various other nice touches.  “As If I Could Fall In Love Again” might do it’s best to incorporate all these elements into one song–but Matt’s background vocals are probably the best touch to this particular track.  But, just as he’s likely to fill up a song with instruments, he’s also willing to strip everything down to its rawest form on May Day.  “As Lies Go..This Ones Beautiful” is basically a stripped down, personal ballad, with Pryor’s voice taking the lead role here.  He’s always been a little off-pitch, but that’s always been something that made him endearing.  Here, you’ll find him as stark-naked as a musician as you’ve probably seen him, and you’ll be rewarded.

I’m predisposed to love Matt Pryor, but I’ll admit dissatisfaction when it’s warranted.  However, there’s not a bad track on the duration of May Day; each track has its special moments, some more so than others.  I suppose you could complain that there’s no incredible songs blowing you away, but it’s better to look at this record as one full of really good tracks.  Whether you grew up listening to the old emo, of which TGUK and Pryor owned, or you’re just encountering him, one listen here will bring you vast listening pleasure, the likes you won’t really find elsewhere in the current climate.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/09-Your-New-Favorite.mp3]

Download:Matt Pryor – Your New Favorite [MP3]

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