Friday, August 6, 2010

Guthrie Kennard's "Matchbox" climbs the Americana Charts in both the US and Europe

Texas blues and roots legend Guthrie Kennard has found success with Matchbox, the latest of his signaturely dark and gritty Americana records.  The album, released in May, rocketed to the top of the Euro-Americana charts, sitting at number 2 for weeks on end.  It is currently climbing its way up through the Americana Airplay Charts, sitting just under the Punch Brothers. 

This success is unsurprising to anyone who has followed Kennard's career as a legendary sideman to such Americana and blues luminaries as Ray Wylie Hubbard and Smokin' Joe Kubek.  Matchbox is a testament to Kennard's skill as both a musician and as songwriter.  His ability to evoke mix inky darkness with levity and balance the hard times with the good is uncanny.  

With an enviable array of legendary musicians surrounding him including Ray Wylie Hubbard, Grammy Award winner Mark Benno and the legendary Buddy Miles (the former drummer of Band of Gypsy’s), Kennard’s meaty, skillful songwriting and unmistakable growl take the listener down a dusty road filled with juke joints and fishin’ holes. Each song, be it a meditation on life lived and life to come, or his spooky account of the celebratory Day of the Dead with “Streets of Jaurez”, or a swampy tribute to “Catfish Fishin’,” is sure to climb inside your head and spin it around. 

Kennard’s music is steeped in Texas tradition, influenced by blues, and is a shining example of all that is great about Americana. Upon first hearing his gravelly voice, you might expect an album full of rocker songs about booze and regret— and there are definitely plenty of those on Matchbox, but Kennard’s songs will also surprise you with their subtlety and insight. Kennard is something of a sage, and an unassuming wisdom comes through particularly in his hit song “My Mind Rolls Like a Wheel”. Of course, then he turns aroundand cranks out “Monkey Wrench”, a long and lean ode to a lady mechanic, just to keep everyone guessing. Kennard fits in among such luminaries as Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Ryan Bingham, Billy Joe Shaver, Robert Earl Keen, and of course Ray Wylie Hubbard who produced the album. Kennard’s punchy and authentic style is unmistakable but also retains an elegant subtlety that puts Matchbox at the top of the heap.  

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