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Matthew Fowler
Folk writer/singer on Dylan track.
Review By A. Colin Flood


Matthew Fowler Beginnings  "You have to feel every emotion in every song, because that's what singing and playing should be; reaching that other place."

The artist – a lean, scruffy young, 20-year old man – is working the stages, in jeans, with his guitar in hand, from home town of Orlando up and down Florida's coasts, backcountry to Tennessee, reputation spreading, slowly making friends and fans. Singer/songwriter, his first album, "Beginnings," recorded on the kitchen table, is out, since June 2013.

We will be hearing more of his reserved style. If you like Jack Johnson, as I did, you will like this folksy crooner too (see "Brushfire Fairytales "). I saw Fowler play to almost empty couches at the local hippie student coffee in Tampa, the aging Sacred Grounds. There two well-worn couches eclipsed a small stage like rowboats at a low dock. The walls fluttered with inept but colorful paintings. The old refrigerator is behind the counter, festooned with political bumper stickers. "Question Authority!""Plant Bush!"

Fowler's energy and talent was lost on the mostly college-age audience. His refinement and nuances were subtleties beyond the unfettered, undirected energies of students pounding their guitars there, each aspiring and acting as they were all destined to be poets laureate, lettered in the praise of their peers. But I found his simple, direct vocals, lyrics and strumming compelling.

If you like the under-stated, muted, energy held in abeyance, barely half-spoken singing style of Johnson and John Mayer's hit, "Your Body Is A Wonderland," you will like this one. This is a younger and more straight-forward strumming style. The gravel in his voice adds refinement to the hard troubadour road of his lyrics. There is no whiskey in his vocal chords yet, but the syrupy grape juice of the child is already gone.

With little accompaniment on most of the songs, this is an acoustic album Phil Ramone needs to get his hands on. Simple quality is good, no complaints, but the few background instruments need orchestration to lift the simple humming tunes into mature melodies. Like "Brushfire Fairytales," this is mellow singer/songwriter work, with understated depth.

You're talking too fast,
And I can't comprehend
There's a stranger in my bed
Am I supposed to be his friend, no
So just stay away, I don't want you here
I can't even look at you
cause your face, it is full of sin
And I'm walking away
Don't grab my hand
I don't expect you to understand


Fowler's biggest musical hero is Glen Hansard. The Irish songwriter appeared in the award winning film, "The Commitments" (a must-see for music lovers). Fowler thinks Hansard shares the same dogma as him when it comes to music. "That the barrier between the audience and the stage should be minimal," he says.

He thinks his simple song and guitar album fits in quite well with artists like Hansard, Ray LaMontagne, and Damien Rice. Folwer appeared at the coffeehouse alone. He doesn't always perform with a band for a couple reasons. When he first started out, his music was always performed by myself, so he got used to playing by himself. It's something he is comfortable and familiar with.


What could be a more difficult than the destitute life of the hard-working, road weary traveling troubadour?



Success, Fowler said "just takes perseverance, consistency, hard work, and luck. It's something that you have to be prepared to work towards for years."

The good news is that Fowler motivates himself. He sets small goals such as "I want to play this bigger venue here," or "I want to have sold this many records by this time." The simple philosophy appears. "You have to just try your best to meet those small goals so that larger ones can be realized."


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