Matthew Check Veers Into Creative Americana Territory On ‘Without A Throne’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

The seven-track album Without A Throne serves as the perfect postscript to Matthew Check’s The Bridgeford Sessions EP released earlier this year. And while this latest solo effort is not as stripped down musically, it does still put the focus squarely on Check’s lyrics.

Based in New York, Check recorded this one in Nashville with a group of musicians he hadn’t met prior to the recording. The group was thrown together by producer/musician Thomas Bryan Eaton. Check sent Eaton his demos and let him assemble the group as he saw fit; the one exception being Check’s longtime drummer Glenn Grossman.

Though Check is still squarely in the Americana/Roots camp on Without A Throne, his latest has him flirting with other influences as well including pop and folk. With the opening track, the aptly titled “The Very Beginning,” he creates a strong classic rock vibe bringing to mind folks like Bob Seger and Mellencamp. “Old Wooden Floor” slips back into roots with powerful lyrics about waking up with regrets. “The music I record is written when I’m in the depths of despair,” said Check recently. “It’s usually very painful, dark and depressing.” And while the sentiment here is certainly not positive, neither is it too earnest or self-pitying.

Impressively he even takes lyrical inspiration from the Old Testament with “What a Father Would Do (Absalom),” creating a surprisingly catchy rock tune that sounds like it came off of the Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. His brother penned the lyrics to the piano-based “The Way That You Are,” a decent song but one that seems a little out of place on this set. The up-tempo country track “Pretty Mama” sounds a little contrived at first (the term “pretty mama” isn’t doing it any favors), but the song gets better with repeated listens. He closes with “Because You Can,” which sounds like a 1970s daquiri rocker – odd but fun nonetheless.

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