matt pond PA - Winter Lives [180g White Vinyl]
We’re uncertain where this winding world is going to take us in the end. But everything within this process has been an effort initiated and enacted by ourselves. From the first scrawls and warbles of primeval songs to the complete physical product that you’re seeing now. Perhaps imperfect, yet one hundred percent ours. And yours.
Throughout his precarious northern New Hampshire youth, Matt Pond was often photographed without trousers, stumbling along the icy mountain runoff and over snow- flecked grass, a loyal and ferocious black-and-white Rough Collie half-heartedly giving chase.
The years passed. The film flickered but mostly stayed static until, in Philadelphia in ’98, he put the headphones over his ears and first listened to ELO. It was a lightening-bolt-for-one: the strings, they said everything. That’s when the electronic orchestration took hold. The songs started coming and they wouldn’t stop, reinforced by a battered Les Paul open-tuned like a dirty dulcimer.
From Philly, he took a Greyhound north and moved to New York. The song “New Hampshire” was written in an empty NYU apartment and would later show up through hand-covered eyes on The O.C. The next year there would be an appearance on Conan, followed by tours with Liz Phair, Ted Leo, Gomez, Rocky Votolato, Nickel Creek, Winter Sleep, Jimmy Eat World. Then on to headlining shows across the country, wildly swerving through the night and living out the cliched beauty expected of an upstanding rock and roll musician.
With a shifting cast of band members through the years, eleven full-length albums and countless EPs and singles to his name, Matt Pond eludes characterization in a way that is both unpresuming and larger than life. It’s an evolution that just makes sense, because this journey is what he was made for.
It makes sense, too, that matt pond PA’s latest release, a bold celebration of what blooms in the coldest, stillest time of the year, is one that has him returning to his live-free-or-die roots. With Winter Lives, he gets to the point: it isn’t about labels and contracts. It’s about the music. It makes the clear and fully independent statement: It’s about connection.
By now, fans of the band are not unfamiliar with the enduring love affair Pond’s lyrics and arrangements have with his shift-shaping environment: an embodiment of the season, the beauty in a prosaic exchange, the weight of expectation and hope, a moment that says a kiss is not a promise. But it can be something close to the truth. And in Winter Lives, he keeps pulling us down this path.
With longtime collaborator Chris Hansen on guitar and at the production helm, core band member Shawn Alpay’s cello and string arrangements, and contributions by a notable assemblage of singers and musicians including Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn and Moving Panoramas’ frontwoman (and former mpPA guitarist) Leslie Sisson, Pond is building on a storyline whose conclusion, while unknown, is undeniably his own.1 In Winter (4:03)
2 The Glow (3:26)
3 A Candle and a Deck of Cards (1:05)
4 Fotzepolitic (3:41)
5 Force of Nature (4:22)
6 Sunset at the Gas Pump (1:44)
7 Whoa (Thirteen and Sledding with Kerry in Northern New Hampshire) (4:15)
8 Leggings in the Living Room (1:40)
9 Dirty Looks (3:16)
10 Used to Be (3:34)
11 Winter Lives (4:14)
12 The Forest of Frost on the Windshield (1:08)
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