Matthew Mayfield Releases Album “Now You’re Free”: A Review
When asked how the music industry has evolved and how this album came about, Matthew Mayfield stated “I feel like the business of music is changing–but people’s hunger for great songs has stayed the same. It’s a lot harder to get people to pay for your art these days–so you need to make it better than ever and more collectible than ever. True fans want to be an experience–not just a handful of mp3s.”
I’m happy to report that southern singer/songwriter Matthew Mayfield’s first full-length album Now You’re Free (Sweet Exchange Records) is a satisfyingly rare experience that will leave you spinning for days. The album is as essential as having a Facebook page (totally necessary, btw) . Releasing six separate EP’s over the past two years, Mayfield’s album has graduated into a more mature tour de force centered around that unforgettable voice. This critically acclaimed artist has one of the most anticipated albums of 2011 and released NYF on April 5th.
Known for gut-ripping lyrics, raw emotion, and the simplicity of his acoustic guitar, Mayfield isn’t afraid to turn up the dirty guitars and crank the drums up. What Matthew did right with this album is he is known for his close and intimate lyrics and simple acoustic guitar. Once you add the instrumentation of a full-band, it’s easy to lose the message in the sound. Nope. Matthew managed to keep that voice front and center and his music is just as exposed. There’s nothing groundbreaking about this album, but more of an amplified and better version of what has earned him critical acclaim in the first place.
I’ve been spinning this new album for about a month now and here is what happened:
Songs that are great to throw your iPod headphones in and go for a run:
“Come Back Home” – A catchy rocker opens his album with the message we’ve come to expect from Mayfield. Yearning, longing, and missing. Arranged with a confident beat, layered with piano, even faint organs in the background and his signature guitars, it’s a perfect opener and one of my favorites off the new album.
“Now You’re Free” – I love the bass line in this one. Mayfield commented that “The minute I wrote that song I knew it was the honest, anthemic chorus I’d been looking for. It’s bigger than any hook on the record and it feels like a room full of people singing. I love that song.”
“Tonight” – Almost pushed out of the final cut of this album, this is actually one of my favorite tracks. Co-written with John Paul White of The Civil Wars, this song’s big sound could fill up an arena. Just make sure you take an iPhone video just to capture it.
“Can’t Change Your Mind” – (performed with Joy Williams of The Civil Wars) – another track packaged for instant TV placement on Grey’s Anatomy or any show that’s going to highlight talented emerging artists. Starting out easy with an electric guitar picking and compounding with the layers of each instrument. Joy’s angelic voice lightly framing Mayfield’s gruff rasp, it’s a combination that works and is also one of my favorites.
Tracks that will make you say, “Damn, where did Matthew Mayfield learn to rock like that?”:
“Missed Me” – bring on those gritty guitars!
“Man-Made Machines” – When asked how MM’s music has evolved, he claimed “Well for one, I wasn’t scared to keep the rock songs. Some people believe that unless it’s a ballad and every lyric is poetry, a song can’t be great. I don’t buy into that. Sometimes people need a rock song. Sometimes I need a rock song.”
“Ghost” (recorded with Bo Rinehart of Needtobreathe) – Mayfield is becoming a master at the dramatic build and rush of the full-throttle rock anthem. This is no exception.
Songs to drown yourself in an alcohol-induced puddle of raw emotion:
“Fire Escape” (w/John Paul White of The Civil Wars) – “I see you bite your bottom lip/Can you feel my kisses on your hips?/I almost hear you catch your breath/My ghost is whispering in your head/‘no… you’re not home…’/…every word I wanted to sing/got replaced with a wedding ring” – Ouch! Such powerful imagery and intimacy, it’s as if Matthew is singing right in your ear. Best track on the album.
“A Cycle” – Again, another slow build and a dancing melody that hooks you right in.
“Element” – a fan-favorite off his first EP The Fire, he re-dressed it with strings and keys but still captures the essence of the powerful lyrics with it’s original simplicity.
Song that will make you want to get up and dance, even if you’re driving:
“Grow Old With You” – Closing the album, this southern-tinged rock song is an unusually hopeful song that leaves the listener ready to hit repeat.
If you haven’t bought the album yet, well, shame on you. It’s brilliant. Click HERE and then check him out on his tour dates below:
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