The Suitcase Junket Signals Up Doom Folk on Junkyard Vibey ‘The End Is New’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Matt Lorenz, the western Massachusetts-based musician who tours and records as the one-man band The Suitcase Junket, calls the music on his new album “The End Is New” ‘doom folk’, a fitting genre name for 2020 it there ever was one.

“The End Is New” is Lorenz’s sixth album and first for the new Americana/roots label Renew/BMG. In concert, Lorenz plays a beat-up old guitar and an array of instruments he’s made out of recycled items including a cooking pot, a saw blade, old bones, and a suitcase. In case that’s not weird enough for you, he is also a practitioner of overtone singing and adds that to the mix. The music he makes is raw and unique and his live act is extremely entertaining.  

When he started working on “The End Is New” during the months before the pandemic hit, the state of our world, especially the environment, was weighing heavily on him. He contacted his producer Steve Berlin the saxophone player of Los Lobos and said he wanted to make a ‘doom folk’ record. He wasn’t sure what that was but he knew they’d figure it out as they made the album. And figure it out they did. 

The eleven tracks on the album find Lorenz digging deeper both lyrically and musically, stepping outside himself to tackle bigger subjects, and going for a bigger, more produced sound as well.

The End Is New opens with the 33-second “Prelude” with its dark, buzzy guitar, some faint violin, and Lorenz’s eerie overtone singing in the background it gives us a glimpse of the doom that lies ahead. But then it quickly switches gear to the foot-stompin’ swampy “Black Holes and Overdoses,” a song with the kind of memorable guitar riff that pulls you in as Lorenz sings about the endless news cycle that we are subjected to and the numbing effect it has on us. The bluesy, haunting “Then There Was Fire” finds him tackling the Australian wildfires,” while “Can’t Look Away,” is about climate change and the role that mankind has played in destroying the planet. “Won’t stop till we use it up/And somehow it ain’t ever enough/Even seeing how it’s killing us /When we lose from winning,” he sings in a voice full of weariness. Musically the tune’s incredible catchiness gives a sense of hope  despite the grim lyrics

This is Lorenz’s second time working with Berlin, who produced last year’s “Mean, Dog Trampoline (Signature Sounds).” Berlin has proven to be a great match for Lorenz as he’s able to smooth out the edges and add a bit of polish to the sound, while not losing any of the street musician junkyard vibes that is the Suitcase Junket.  And while Lorenz is a talented multi-instrumentalist, Berlin brings in a host of guest musicians to flesh out the songs, adding drums, bass, organs, percussion, and synths. Berlin also has the knack for adding just the right sonic flourishes to take a song in a new direction, including his own R&B styled sax playing on “When the Battle is Won.”

Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. was on hand to lend searing guitar on the beautiful ballad of loss “Light a Candle.” One of the strongest songs here, Mascis’ solo lends even more emotional heft to an already sad song that includes lyrics like “Then I got sadder than I thought I oughta be/Sadder still for trying to keep the sadness out/Because I could not sink into my sense of me/I was left with several galaxies of doubt.”

But it’s not all gloom and doom – a lot of the music is upbeat if not downright rocking. “Jesus! King of the Dinosaurs” is a fun song about religious extremism, that starts out a quiet folk song with acoustic guitar and strings then there’s a pause before it morphing into a caffeinated rocker. “Breathe Forever” is a rock anthem that would sound at home being played in an arena.

The Suitcase Junket is a true original and an artist who moves his sound forward with each release. And with “The End Is New,” he emerges with a work of compelling lyrics and excellent musicianship that is deserving of widespread attention. He may call it ‘doom folk’ but we simply call it good music.


Related Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide