Matt Maeson

High Noon Saloon
701 E Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53703
United States

Event Description:

Growing up in Virginia, Matt Maeson got his start performing for inmates at maximum-security prisons across America at age 17. “I’d get up and do these acoustic songs on my guitar, and they’re still the best shows I’ve ever done,” says the Austin-based singer/songwriter. “You’re playing for all these people who are treated like they’re monsters, and it feels like spreading some light into a really dark place.”

On his debut album Bank on the Funeral, Maeson uses his deeply incisive songwriting to explore the tension between light and dark in his own life. The album redefines the limits of the classic singer/songwriter’s sensibility and shapes a sound that’s richly textured and gracefully experimental. And with his soulful vocal presence, Maeson again reveals the raw-nerve vulnerability that prompted TIME to praise him as “never afraid to investigate his past and his demons, resulting in songs that are clear-eyed in their honesty and raw around the edges.”

Centered on Maeson’s candid storytelling and gritty poetry, Bank on the Funeral takes its title from its closing track: a quietly hypnotic number written for a beloved uncle, who was murdered when Maeson was six-years-old. “He was a criminal when he was younger, but once he got himself together he’d go out and minister to the people he used to hang around with -- the people the church would never try to reach -- and then one of those guys ended up going crazy and killing him,” says Maeson. “What inspires me about him is how he’d go to the places no one else would go and talk about the things no one else would talk about.”

Throughout Bank on the Funeral, Maeson brings a similar courage to his songwriting, imbuing every track with an often-brutal self-awareness. On the album-opening “I Just Don’t Care That Much,” he fires off a litany of confessions (“Maybe life was just a bet/That I lost to drugs and cigarettes”), brilliantly offsetting all that heavy-hearted deliberation with his bright melodies and upbeat rhythms. Later, on the fast-paced and horn-laced “Legacy,” Maeson’s spirited and sometimes-howled vocals relay some borrowed wisdom about self-salvation. “That song’s about a night in Virginia Beach when I was drunk on the street with my friends, and an old man came up to us and started talking about life,” Maeson explains. “The lyrics are basically me writing out everything I remember him saying.” But for songs like “The Mask,” the album shifts into moodier and more darkly ethereal terrain, a potent backdrop to his gently urgent vocal performance. “‘The Mask’ is about how everybody has a mask they wear and how that always roots back to something -- some point in your life where you started pretending, and then eventually started believing that’s who you really are,” Maeson says.