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SCHED* SXSW 2011 has ended
Thursday, March 17 • 9:00pm - 10:00pm
Matt Duke

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We've all heard the old song about the hip bone being connected to the leg bone, but what about the heart-strings and the grey matter? That connection is harder to make – but it's one that Matt Duke manages to forge with the whip-smart, emotive songs on his second Ryko album, One Day Die – an album which touches on the darkness implicit in that title and uses it as a springboard to redemption and rebirth. 'You could look at the title and think, 'wow, that's dark,' but it's not meant to be morbid, it's meant to raise questions about how to cope, how to get past the darkness,' says the 25-year-old South Jersey native, who grants that he went to his own dark place last year after suffering a hand injury that was serious enough to jeopardize his ability to play guitar again. 'As strange as it sounds, that was a blessing in disguise,' explains Duke, 'because it was something of an enforced break that made me reconsider everything. When I started again, I found myself taking a completely fresh approach – one where I was willing to just experiment with no reservations.' With the help of producer Jason Finkel, Matt accelerated his healing process and dug deep to craft 11 songs. The pensive songwriter began to expand his horizons both sonically – evidence the doomy, string-laced opener 'MLT' and the ethereal 'Lay,' which brings to mind the delicate tension of the late Jeff Buckley – and in the incisive wordplay he works so effortlessly. Duke's impressionistic lyrics – delivered in a pure tenor that cuts straight to the bone -- shine bright, particularly throughout the edgy 'Kangaroo Court' and on the guitar-driven 'Needle and Thread,' in which Duke assumes the role of the troubadour yearning to find 'open arms at the bar for the prodigal son that often goes astray.' Such quests make up the heart and soul of One Day Die – an album which finds Duke asking questions of himself and which grabs listeners by the lapels and shakes them into a similar frame of mind. He literally puts them on the therapist's couch for the roiling 'Psycho-Babble,' and then reminds them – in the unflaggingly beautiful 'Shangri-La' – 'I know Shangri-La is somewhere near/ I've seen it, I've been there.' That paradise aside, Duke has been to a lot of places since he began his musical career. Writing and performing around South Jersey and Philadelphia while in high school helped him win the respect of soon-to-be-collaborators like Marshall Crenshaw, Suzzy Roche and Dylan sideman David Mansfield. Barely past his 18th birthday, Matt recorded a demo that caught the attention of Mad Dragon Records, a label run by students at Philly's Drexel University. Mad Dragon released Matt's critically-acclaimed debut album, Winter Child, paving the way for his signing to Ryko, which spawned the well-received Kingdom Underground, produced by Marshall Altman. 'Those records were definitely a part of who I was at the time when I made them,' says Duke. 'But [One Day Die] really is me. Every character, every narrative is me in a lot of ways. With Jason's help, I realized that it's a good thing to get carried away. I got carried away a lot here.' That's evident throughout One Day Die, an album that runs as much on adrenalin as it does on intellect. As Matt reminds us in 'The Hour': 'Wounds heal in good time Remember all of the joy and all of my love for you We all one day die And you'll be alright' Not just alright. Mended and made well.
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Matt Duke

We've all heard the old song about the hip bone being connected to the leg bone, but what about the heart-strings and the grey matter? That connection is harder to make – but it's one that Matt Duke manages to forge with the whip-smart, emotive songs on his second Ryko album, One... Read More →


Thursday March 17, 2011 9:00pm - 10:00pm
The Tap Room at Six 311 Colorado St

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