For his first Nashville-recorded album, Matt Urmy set his sights pretty high. Sweet Lonesome was tracked at the legendary Quonset Hut of Owen Bradley fame, where Patsy Cline and countless other Music City legends stood while recording their classic hits, and Bob Dylan produced Blood on the Tracks. It’s the latter which casts the biggest shadow over these proceedings, with a B-3 slinking through the rockers and the rest of the musicians vamping like the Muscle Shoals house band playing a Louisiana church service.
For a guy known as both a poet and a singer-songwriter, Urmy can deliver a snarling blues-rock riff convincingly, as on “Stone In The River,” which is aided greatly by the call-and-response backing vocals from Jonell Mosser, Ashley Cleveland, and Mary Gauthier. “I Need a Healer” is swampy fun reminiscent of Omar & the Howlers, and “Don’t Mind the Chains” is a slow-burning anti-ballad that alternates between a stomping chorus and the ominous-sounding verses.
“Bring It Back” offers up a more country vibe along with the soulful voice of Mosser, while “The Old Photograph” is the kind of eerie reminiscence that made Urmy’s last disc New Season Comin’ such a deep listening experience. There are layers here that reward repeat plays with underlying meanings and outcomes, richer understanding not only of the song but of your own reaction, and relation, to it.
Even Urmy can’t resist peeling away some of those layers, apparently. Later this summer he’s issuing a different version of this same album, recorded at a different studio using different players and instrumentation in a promised stripping down of the songs. For now, here’s a clip of Urmy with an interview segment and an acoustic solo take of “She Said I’m A Hotel” that might offer a glimpse of the upcoming release: