I spent January 1st, 2016 plunging a badly stopped up toilet, getting covered in shit, crying for hours in my bed because I couldn't even unclog a toilet correctly and I'll always be alone, nothing ever changes, the future is bleak and hopeless, etc. In "Love in the Nuclear Age," Matt Woods laments that "no one's been smart enough to write a book about how to survive." The line has struck me since I tore the cellophane off this album a few weeks ago. It's a question we've all sought to answer. And certainly there are many books about survival -- spiritual, physical, and political. But if there was a book that held all the answers for me, what would it say? Things got so much worse since New Year's Day, my life trajectory is so different than I thought it would be at this time last year, and 2017 is shaping up to be good, if not excellent. So if I wrote the book, what would it say?
The question has inspired me to write a few new songs, and I think Paul Sanchez's new album, Heart Renovations, offers plenty of response to How to Survive, but check back on Wednesday. Woods himself doesn't offer many answers. Instead he portrays characters locked in the struggle -- a struggle, I suppose, that never really ends. Is it worth breaking someone's heart to stay true to ourselves? Is an anonymous life on the road worth a potentially lonely death? "The American Way", the song's introductory track, reminds us that our way of life doesn't provide for much dignity at all.
Overall, How to Survive, sees Woods in a more mellow, contemplative place than he's been in a while. While the anthems of Matt Woods Manifesto are dear to my heart, this is a good look on Woods. It showcases his poignant lyricism and powerful vibrato. If Matt is in your town -- he's on tour with the majority of Have Gun, Will Travel backing him -- make sure you swing by. Having answers is nice, but creating a work of art that leaves the audience with more questions is far more meaningful.
Matt Woods -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp, iTunes