It is with great pride I write this…new Matt Bauer full length record out on June 7th from Crossbill Records. It will be the first vinyl release from Bauer and also available in CD and MP3 formats. His record release show will be in Brooklyn on June 2nd at Union Pool with the always excellent and pals of Matt and Crossbill, The Loom. Matt will hit the road hard in support of the record soon after. More info soon on the full tour! Sign up for Matt Bauer’s mailing list HERE to be kept up to date.
After writing an entire album centered on the unsolved 1968 murder of a girl near his childhood home (2008’s The Island Moved in the Storm), Matt Bauer has again turned to the subject of his native Kentucky with The Jessamine County Book of the Living, a record that is an intimate, personal, and often fantastical interpretation of the natural world.
Dead deer sing songs of hope to the living, ants hunt down ghost mites in a forest of feathers on a heron’s back, horses drift to sleep wishing they knew how to speak, a man and a coyote meet each other at the edge of the suburbs and the forest – each wondering at the alien creature that has crossed into his world.
At times intensely spare, but more often blooming into sweeping orchestral arrangements, The Jessamine County Book of the Living, is a vision of central and eastern Kentucky as if arranged by Moondog and filtered through Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. Bauer cites the human headed deer in Mononoke, whose every step brings life and destruction, as a recurring inspiration. The record exudes a fascination with the overwhelming abundance, power, beauty, and, ultimately, crushingly neutral indifference of the natural world. As the speaker in the song “All the Wolves That I’ve Known” says, “It’s almost a horror how joy springs up and chokes the dark!”
Along with Bauer’s unique banjo melodies, played in a style that owes as much to Indonesian gamelan as it does to the music of Appalachia, the album boasts nearly 20 guest musicians from his current home of Brooklyn and his former home, San Francisco. Among them are frequent collaborator Jolie Holland, Angel Deradoorian (Dirty Projectors), Mariee Sioux, Jay and Alex Foote (Sufjan Stevens, Welcome Wagon), and a ten piece orchestra of strings, brass, woodwinds, vibraphone and chimes.
The Jessamine County Book of the Living is an album both highly emotional and oddly calming, alternately sprawling and economical, with light and beauty even in the darkest corners, and a darkness in the brightest light.
Selected Press For The Island Moved In The Storm:
“There is an economic darkness on this recording. Lonely banjos ride along sharp ridges, horns swirl in cold creeks, and there is subtle sense of loss in Bauer’s music that leaves the impression of a man whose demons will not be stilled.” – Skyscraper
“The Island Moved in the Storm inhabits a strange, beautiful, spiritually satisfying world that is as far from the ordinary run of indie-folk as Kentucky is from Brooklyn.” – Dusted
“An album of fragile beauty”- Under the Radar
“One of this year’s finest records” – Muzzle of Bees
“He’s channeling something heavy, preparing the rest of us for a darkness or beauty that we aren’t yet ready to receive. We believe Matt Bauer is a prophet.” – Thrasher Magazine
“Matt Bauer plays a ghostly sort of folk, wreathed in delicate webs of banjo and whispered with a lightness Sam Beam might envy.” – Philadelphia Weekly
“Matt Bauer whispers the details in a beautiful feathery rasp, inviting you join him as and eyewitness to the secrets of this sad story.” – WFMU