In a time where any musician can self-produce and release their own independent album, up-and-coming talents need to set the bar extra high, or at least posses image marketability. The story behind music industry insider Matt Reynolds’ debut release is far from this trend. The longtime road manager for Grateful Dead tribute favorite Dark Star Orchestra has released his impressively diverse Been Long Gone after years behind the scenes. In addition to managing a wildly successful touring band he developed his own singular style as singer, songwriter and acoustic guitarist. While it would be easy to label Been Long Gone a country album, deeper listening reveals layers of stylistic influence, pooling together an honest approach at Americana. What began as a demo CD turned into a full-on polished studio effort is lined with traces of blues, ragtime, folk, bluegrass, rock ‘n’ roll, all woven into a cohesive country feel.
While Matt’s music career had historically been on the production and business side of things, it’s wondrous how this debut reveals a distinctly developed sense of artistry. His vocals are reminiscent of John Hartford’s ballads. Equally notable is the mounting interest that this project gained in production. The finished album features a truly all-star session band packed with virtuosic guests galore. The core band that began recording the skeleton of these nine tracks was a trio of Reynolds (acoustic guitar, vocals), Ted Pecchio (Bass), and Duane Trucks (Drums). As the road manager for a hyper busy touring band, they were able to lay down some tracks, but his “day job” beckoned him back to the road. On DSO tour Matt peaked the interest of virtuosic fiddler Nicky Sanders (Steep Canyon Rangers) to lay down some tracks while DSO rhythm guitarist and Tech Wiz Rob Eaton assisted in recording. On the same tour, organ/piano player Rob Barraco leant his talents and recorded over most of the progressing tracks.
As if Been Long Gone didn’t already have enough steam behind it, Matt was able to enlist some extremely impressive studio guests near and far including Durga McBroom-Hudson & Lorelei McBroom (backing vocals for Pink Floyd), Jesse Aycock, Cody Kilby, Jeff Sipe, Mickey Raphael, and Jimmy Herring. These gifted players all believed in the core material behind Been Long Gone and the finished product shimmers with their contributions. All impressive guests and extra color aside, the foundation that brings together this strong alt-Country/Americana record is Reynolds’ inventiveness. The sorrow and grief of “Good Outlaws Wife” will tug at your heartstrings. The raggy sway of “Pretty Girl” relates to the restless and heartbroken, amped up by the reinforcing croon of the McBroom sisters. The bookends of Been Long Gone “Pen and Paper Parts 1 and 2” set the mood for the record. The reprise features two fantastically emotional solos from guests Saunders and Herring who channel Reynolds’s expressiveness through their featured moments.
Even with all of the talents that play on this album, nothing crowds the anchors music or vocal work. Matt Reynolds’ laments of love, loss, heartbreak and rebuilding shimmer and carry the recording to it’s full potential. The album continues to build momentum since its April 2015 release. You can purchase the album through CD Baby, and other online outlets.