Menacing melodies float around us as the slow-churning string play of “Fire Song” fills the air with an ominousness that, although muted by the shadow of the rollicking beat, plays an understated role in the moodiness of “Perfect Eye” as well. “Silence, Now!” aches like a long-forgotten Paul Westerberg ballad refashioned in millennial blue, while “American Fever Dream” screams in silence, muffled by a psychedelically-filtered rhythm that is as intoxicating as it is nauseatingly complex.
“Visions of America” has a multifaceted progressive folk finish that is as embracive of experimentalism as the black and white melodies crushing us in “Strange Day” could be, were they not as boldly stoic as they are in their present state. Whether his heavy heart is bleeding all over the amplified heat in “The Sentinel,” suffocating us with honest emissions in “Lonesome” or inspiring us to look at our own scars and the way they’ve scabbed over in “Joke Song,” Matthew Squires is bound to get your attention in his new album Visions of America, which was released late last month to an excellent reception from critics across the board.
Though most of the tracks on Visions of America are lyrical showcases, there’s just as much to be said about the instrumental fabric of the record as there is its sharp, pointed poeticisms. The guitars command a lot of the limelight in “Fire Song,” “Silence, Now!” and “Strange Day,” and when they harmonize with the vocal in the overdriven “American Fever Dream” and the title track, there’s more than one moment where it’s hard to tell who is in control of the music – Squires or the strings that he’s breathing so much life into via his verses.
Pick up Visions Of America here!
He’s really emotional in this record, but he’s very careful to avoid the negative aspects of writing too intimate an album in Visions of America; for every chillingly retrospective statement he makes, there’s a little dash of surreal eclecticism to follow it up, as if to intentionally keep the music from getting too self-centered in nature. There’s not a doubt in my mind as to whether he’s taking this phase of his career seriously or not, and in comparison to a lot of his peers, he’s setting a prime example of how a true professional should broach a project as ambitious as this one is.
Deceptively simple and relentlessly relatable even when its star singer isn’t crooning a single word to us, Visions of America is a breakthrough moment for Matthew Squires that sounds and feels more like a summer daydream than it does a nine-track album recorded from within the confines of a recording studio. There’s a sweetness to Squires’ voice that was never present before now in this LP, and though there’s still room for continued growth, I think that you would be hard-pressed to find another artist in his class that has matured as much as he has in the last couple of years. He’s on the right track if his ultimate goal is international stardom, and after you listen to his latest release, I have a feeling that you’re going to agree with me.