The album “Catch Me If You Can” by Matt Pless is cynical and sneering. It’s worldly-wise and questioning. It’s angry and honest. It’s energetic and visceral. It’s fast and furious. Why would anyone want an album like that? Because it’s f-cking amazing, that’s why. It’s the battle we all fight with life’s demons in a perfect fusion of lyric and music. Each song on its own is beautiful and brilliant, but once you listen enough you will understand how perfect each song title fits the piece. This is a flawless album in its stimulating rush of acoustic driven sound. While his peers continue to belt out pop-punk alternative fluff, Matt Pless has evolved into somewhat of an oddity. There is tons of emotion, energizing acoustic guitar, indie rock sensibilities, and subtle but masterful folk songwriting at play here.
From the time you press play on the opener, “When the Frayed Wind Blows”, there is so much heartfelt passion and honesty in every song that it connects incredibly on an emotional level, and the music hits you like a freight train. Luckily for us, Matt brandishes an acoustic guitar. Had it been an electric six string, these songs would be bone-crushingly potent.
Which obviously may have been detrimental to the storytelling lyrics. This way we’re able to absorb both the power of the music as well as soak up the lyrical narratives. This album’s viewpoint is squarely from Matt Pless. He know his audience. He knows how to communicate with them, because he is one of them.
The emotional resonance. The catharsis of sitting down, listening to this concentration of distilled sensibilities. Feeling the complicated emotions that arise from truly dwelling on what you hear and what this album has to say about the way Matt Pless sees things, makes for an almost instinctive listening experience.
That’s what this album is – From the adrenalin pumping strum of “Rollin’ the Dice”, to the picked strings of “Hang on Tight (and Let It Go)” , and the racy rhythms of “The Cigarette Song” – it’s Matt caring about everything, sometimes way too much, and outpouring those thoughts and emotions onto paper and delivering them through a microphone and a guitar.
The themes and motifs on “Catch Me If You Can” are worth noting, because without looking at what Matt Pless is truly trying to say behind all the energy and seeming chaos, you’ll find yourself listening to a lot of quick-paced, soul-wrenching melodies.
The fiery banjo on “Cinnamon and Honey”, the glistening organ on “Rollin’ The Dice”, the warm piano on “The Wedding Song”, and the backing vocals by Valerie LaCerra on some of the songs, add an extra dimension to the album in general. Song after song, you’ll be exposed to experiencing the full breadth that this album has to offer both as a musical experience and as a work of artistic integrity.
Sometimes the most complex and trying moments of our lives result in the most primitive responses. This album, in a way, is a representation of all the emotions that swirl around inside our heads, and how we handle them in various real-life situations, as seen through the eyes and experiences of Matt Pless.
Take a listen to “Shots Fired”, and how Matt focuses on the effect and cause of a massacre to get an even deeper glimpse into his psyche. The music on this album may be deviant and tempting, the lyrics in your face and the overall tone, a frivolous frenzy, yet, in doing so Matt Pless has created some of the most seriously captivating songs he has composed so far.
So as not to sound too presumptuous – and for that reason alone – I won’t say that Matt redefines folk-punk, but I will state that he certainly gives listeners the best, most authentic experience it has to offer right now!