One of the most notable things about Matthew Wolcott’s debut release is that it does not sound like a debut at all. Western Lights is underpinned by a maturity befitting a seasoned artist long-settled into his own skin—a comfortable self-awareness that the Dallas-based singer-songwriter delivers with remarkable credibility. Maybe it is no surprise that music has held an anchoring presence in his life for more than three decades, although he only recently stepped out of a successful law career to pursue it in earnest.
Wolcott took up piano at age six, around the time he discovered his father’s collection of ‘60s and ‘70s vinyl that included the requisite Beatles, Beach Boys, and early Chicago. In middle school he became a trumpet player and studied music theory. He began listening more discerningly to the Beatles and other artists of the 60’s and 70’s, dissecting the music and developing an appreciation for style. By age fifteen he was composing instrumental songs.
Wolcott attended LSU on an academic scholarship, studying mechanical engineering and computer science as a path into the aerospace field. But music always called out to him, and after college he continued songwriting and spent over ten years on and off the Dallas live music scene, although his passion would only parallel both law school and a law career. Eventually, music again became an inward-facing pursuit, as he returned to writing and playing music behind closed doors, trying to unearth his unique sound and style.
The result is Western Lights, an uncluttered installment of literate, late-night reflections spun into relatable stories of nostalgia, melancholy, heartbreak, and hope. But the EP is more than a collection of eloquent musings by an introspective artist. As producer Joe Chiccarelli puts it, “the recording sessions for the EP were all about capturing a feeling and telling a story.” Wolcott's rich, Americana-infused vocals are beautifully lifted by infectious melodies and inspired instrumentation, presenting a broad yet surprisingly cohesive soundscape across the EP's five tracks. From Henley-esque synths that subtly propel the driving title track, to a delightfully-unexpected trumpet hook that gives way to warm, funereal strings in the anthemic "Dixie's Waltz," the Western Lights EP demonstrates how carefully-crafted sonics truly can tell a story as effectively as the words themselves.