Some might know Matt Pryor from his bands, the Get Up Kids or the New Amsterdams, perhaps saw him perform acoustically on the Where’s the Band tour or maybe you have never heard of him at all. No matter how you know Pryor (and especially if you don’t) you need to check out his new album May Day. It’s his second solo full length album and is an awesome follow-up to 2008’s Confidence Man.
May Day is the direct result of the Matt Pryor’s fans. Pryor decided to start his own label, the Nightshoes Syndicate, and release the album independently by using Kickstarter. For those that might not know, Kickstarter is an online community that helps individuals fund projects. The site also allows fans to be active with the creation of the art that they want to see and to get significant benefits by directly contributing to its success.
May Day is the logical follow up to Confidence Man musically, lyrically and in terms of quality. The raw unproduced sound adds to the fact that the album sounds so natural. It gives character to the songs. Pryor has a really soothing but powerful voice that allows him to project the perfect emotion that these songs are trying to convey. Lyrically, the album seems to be focused on dealing with heartbreak and loss and how to move on in the wake of these things. It’s such a great subject to deal with because it is one that everyone can relate to and understand. In regards to quality, these songs are even catchier and more coherent than the gems on the last album. Pryor is a talented songwriter and has consistently put out excellent music. On May Day it seems that Pryor is even more comfortable with doing solo acoustic work than on his previous album. These songs sound like the exact product that he set out to write when he penned them.
The first song on the album is “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down”. It is a folky jaunt that has a nice bounce. It is a great opening track that immediately pulls you in. “The Lies Are Keeping Me Here” follow the opener and slow things down slightly but add harmonica, some percussion and an organ to flesh out this song.
“Where Do We Go From Here” is the standout track on the album. This song is a perfect combination of acoustic guitar and piano and they complement and spur each other on. It is packed with melody and is very catchy. After hearing this song a few times through, the tune is sure to be stuck in your head. One thing I find interesting is the natural rhythm in the song without the use of drums. The song is not only catchy but it is also poignant, “And after the smoke’s all cleared. Where do we go from here?” A thought that all of us encounter after major moments in life.
“Like A Professional” slows things down a lot but the departure is welcomed by this haunting tune that almost feels empty sounding. The hollow echoed feel creates a great mood albeit a darker one. It is a simply beautiful song. “As If I Could Fall In Love With You Again” keeps pace but is back to the folky sound of the album’s openers with the harmonica and banjo. It is very catchy and short. The upbeat sound of the music is juxtaposed with the depressing meaning of the song. This is a song about a relationship that went horribly wrong. The subject is clearly stating that he no longer wants to be with this person. “You ask my forgiveness for all of your sin. You came home repenting. Look at the wretched state you’re in. As if I could fall in love with you again.” This closure is permanent and allows to subject to move on, which is such an important thing.
The folky section of the album continues with “Polish the Broken Glass”. It details life after a relationship. “Unhappy Is The Only Happy You’ll Ever Be” is such a depressing song. It extends that message both to an ex and to himself. Sometimes right after the breakup this is how all of us feel.
“As Lies Go This One Is Beautiful” is a delicate sounding song that has an almost lullaby quality to it. The guitar has a haunting reverb and it sets the same mood as “Like A Professional”. “Your New Favorite” is a piano driven tune filled with harmonicas. It is such a cool song. “Rather than discuss it, or debate it further still consider this my epitaph. Let you out of the will. Better off without me so I’m going on. Whistling your new favorite song.” I love the thought of moving on that is a big theme on this album.
“You Won’t Get Any Blood From Me” is a two minute song laced with piano. This song is about the pain another can inflict. “Ten tiny blades, a thousand little scars, no single cut enough to kill, but there’s strength in numbers.” Well said. I love the way the song, “I Was A Witness” builds up. It is amazing. I also love how layered the song is. One of my favorite parts of the song is Pryor harmonizing with himself at the end of this song singing, “You Won’t Die Alone.” Beautiful. The album closes with folky banjo based closer “What My Tired Eyes Would View”. It is an excellent way to end the album.
Light acoustic numbers, folky, country influenced tunes and introspective, heart wrenching lyrics makes May Day a can’t miss album. If he decides to use Kickstarter to fund his next album I will be at the front of the line to contribute to help him continue to create great art like this.