South Australian songwriter Matt Ward returns with his first release of 2021, revealing an emotive and widescreen American vista.
If you head for the town of Wimberley, on the outskirts of Austin TX, you’ll find a small ranch that houses the widely respected, state-of-the-art recording studio Yellow DOG. They pride themselves on vintage tone, an inspired setting and fearless production and you can hear all those elements come to the fore on ‘Lost & Found’, the brand new single by South Australian singer-songwriter Matt Ward.
The studio has hosted the likes of Charlie Sexton, Kacey Musgraves, Colter Wall, Bonnie Raitt, Charley Crockett, Kris Kristofferson, Rosie Flores and countless others and more recently the name Matt Ward has been added to that illustrious list.
After working with Bonnie Montgomery on his last single ‘Old Ground’ (2020), which received high-rotation airplay on ABC Country radio across Australia, Matt shifts gears on ‘Lost & Found’, a brooding alt-country song on a grand scale.
Wide open spaces are conjured up by the desert-wide electric guitar squalls and incendiary pedal steel/EBow solo, the moody, tension-building rhythm section and the textural, cosmic Americana elements that recall the mystery and allure of Daniel Lanois and Dirty Three. Matt’s hypnotic vocal mantras tell the tale of two souls on different trajectories, fleetingly crossing paths in The Lone Star State. The dynamics of the music powerfully captures both the initial and intense spark of a potential relationship and the sense of realisation as the flame dies out.
“‘Lost & Found’ has been inspired by my travels in and around Texas. It is a song inspired by adventure, country and love – with a little bit of truth about one particular road trip from Austin to West Texas. When writing this song I want listeners to to hear the wide open spaces, feel the sexual tension, and be energised to throw caution to the wind and just hit the road with that person you’ve been meaning to.”
Working with producer David Percefull, Matt has created some superb musical landscapes for his new songs. The growing stylistic range of his writing highlights his ability to work in areas right across the roots music spectrum, from honky tonk to alt-country, raw folk to bluesy rock, it’s all become part of his creative skillset and allowed him to explore all corners of the Americana world, with a uniquely Australian perspective.
Matt, who was born and bred in Adelaide, South Australia, comes from a long line of family boot makers and outside of music he’s had years of experience in land management across the outback. That travel and insight informs his songwriting, as do all his life experiences, through love and adventure. As a young child, Matt learned piano, voice and theory but it wasn’t until he started playing guitar and channeling heartache and stories from the road and the land, that he was led down the heart-worn and dusty path of writing country songs.
Matt released his self-titled debut solo EP in 2016, featuring the song ‘Neil Young’ which would subsequently be included on the landmark 3CD compilation Take Me To Town (2018) which documented the Australian alt-country music scene at the time.
In 2019 Matt released his debut album Heartland. Based on a true story, it reached the #1 spot on the ARIA Australian Country album chart, debuted at #1 on the iTunes Country Album chart and has gone on to rack up over 140,000 streams worldwide. Featuring the singles ‘Better Man’, ‘Take Me Home’, ‘Back To The Country’ and ‘Annabelle’, the album was described by Australia’s #1 roots music magazine Rhythms as “world class” and “testament to his ability to blend popular and alt-country elements in convincingly heartfelt songs”.
Heartland led Matt to showcase for Sounds Australia at Nashville’s Americanafest, perform at Australian Music Week and Tamworth Country Music Festival and be announced as part of the first line-up of Americana artists for the 2020 Groundwater Country Music Festival.
In 2020 Matt followed up the success of Heartland with a run of new singles – the bluesy rhythm and country rock of ‘Tattoos, Trucks & Country Music’ and ‘Old Ground’, a sublime fiddle and pedal steel-assisted duet with Bonnie Montgomery (2016 Ameripolitan Outlaw Female and 2018-2020 Arkansas Americana Artist of the Year) that harks back to classic honky tonk and Western swing.
Matt’s influences run wide and deep, from Willie Nelson, Dale Watson, Colter Wall and Robert Ellis, to Neil Young, Steve Earle and Paul Kelly. From the Adelaide Hills to West Texan dive bars, Matt is a man for all seasons.
“Matt Ward is that guy… wordsmith, tunesmith, and craftsman. A songwriter’s songwriter whose material speaks deeply and simultaneously of his journey and of ours.” Matt Fell (7 x Golden Guitar Award-winning producer)
“These are the elements that make it possible to envisage these songs being played to strangers in a dusty outback pub as much as it is to a crowded bar in inner-city Melbourne. When songs are as well constructed as these, they can travel.” Sunburnt Country Music