What music has changed your life? When you think about music that has brought you to where you are today, who do you think of? Matthew Payne’s life was changed by Townes Van Zandt in Big Bend National Park. This beautiful twist of fate inspired a poet to become. Matthew started to write the beautiful lyrics to his beautiful songs. We’ve featured The River Has Many Voices before, and we feature him again for good reasons. He has a great sound, he’s a great guy, he tells relatable stories, and he has a voice like flannel shirts. “Division” is Matthew’s fourth release.
“Walk in the Fire” tells a story about time. Time to change, to toughen up and face reality. It’s time to walk through the fire, stop living in these walls and depending on material possessions. I love the bits of harmonica that Payne adds in between the verses. They make the smooth, sweet voice/guitar combination feel a little bit gritty. I love the wanderlust on display. It makes me long for Matterhorn or my granddad’s cabin in northern Idaho. It’s a very raw piece of music. The lyrics are honest and beautiful.
Part lullaby, part love song, “I’m Alright, Babe” is a pretty little ballad. The lyrics are full of kindness and warm memories of days despite bad weather. This is a story about loneliness being eased by the presence of a dear friend. The past is behind, the future is ahead, and memories are everywhere as long as we love each other.
“Let Us Bow Our Heads and Pray” has a more melancholy, intense sound. Payne’s voice is so controlled that I expect it to just break loose and soar at any moment. I love it. The guitar picking is beautiful and haunting, yet simple and rhythmic–like water tumbling over rocks at night time. I believe that this is my favorite song on this album, it is so beautiful.
I don’t want to give the whole thing away and there are only six beautiful tracks here, so I will leave the rest of it as a surprise for you. It’s short enough that you could turn it on right now and enjoy these beautiful melodies where you are sitting (which is exactly what you should do). It will transport you to a place with clean air and soaring peaks where the snow never fully melts off the top. There are columbines and dandelions swaying in the breeze of the guitar and you will sway right along with them.