BOW AND BE SIMPLE (Berkalin Records), the second CD from Matt Harlan, is a truly organic effort that showcases the Houston-based artist's international collaboration with Danish band, The Sentimentals. Recorded chiefly in one day on an island outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, the collection features tunes in a variety of moods, unified by a cozy, almost vintage vibe. As a follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Harlan brings a set of songs that travel just as straight the heart of matters via his characteristic observations and poetic minimalism. Harlan is a winner of multiple songwriting accolades, from outfits like American Songwriter and Billboard. Most recently he won the 2011 Troubadour contest at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and was featured alongside a stellar cast of characters (Lyle Lovett, Guy Clark) in the documentary, "For The Sake Of The Song". On BOW AND BE SIMPLE, Harlan's smooth drawl bends, but doesn't break whether he's tackling a Snider-esque rant ("Darker Shade of Grey"), slurring a dark, beat-poet's ode to the office ("Elevator Ride") or when paired with guest singer, Rachel Jones in natural harmony ("Too Much Going On"). Danish backing band, The Sentimentals, are integral to the drive and sway of this record. The group lets the songs lead the way, playing with an uncomplicated understanding of when to shift gears as they climb and coast - a gift they've honed while backing similar artists, such as Jonathan Byrd, Dana Cooper and Sarah McDougal. On this outing Harlan's modern roots-folk hones in on serious subjects like domestic abuse ("The Ring"), religious uncertainty ("Bow And Be Simple") and economic tribulations ("The Easy Road"). Yet, the listener isn't burdened by sermons - they're allowed to keep their own perceptions and take their own lessons. Matt Harlan & The Sentimentals are pleased and excited to share this project with you.
Matt Harlan is a songwriter's songwriter. He composes scenic landscapes and pointed statements disguised as songs. Often non-linear, but always melodic. Harlan's works confront social norms, celebrate lives overlooked, or just wax poetic about coffee and bus-stops. Whatever the inspiration, the music is always heartfelt and genuine. Born and raised in Texas, Harlan soaked up the richness of the state and its song-smiths while bouncing between big cities and small towns. Always in love with music, he began writing songs in seventh grade after moving from a Houston suburb to the picturesque hills of Boerne. From 60’s pop in kindergarten to alt-country in college and all the angst in between, Harlan draws from a range of influences, interpreting a generation steeped in plastic and filtered through the Hill Country limestone. After gigging in rock bands around San Antonio and Austin, Harlan dropped the pick and the power chords to develop his own unique finger-picking technique. Now back in Houston, he is working to promote his earthy, socially conscious sound. In 2003 Matt Harlan won the Kerrville Folk Festival's Texas University Songwriters Competition based on the merit of his songs “Suitcase Blues,” “Warm November,” and “The Optimist.” Winning the competition allowed him to play on the Threadgill's Stage at the Festival along with other songwriters from Texas universities. The Houston Fort Bend Songwriter's Association (HFBSA) nominated Matt Harlan's “Heavy Steel and Spinning Wheels” for their 2006 Song of the Year award.
Matt Harlan was recently included in the forthcoming documentary on the legendary Anderson Fair entitled, "For the Sake of the Song". Details can be found on Matt Harlan's websites and at www.andersonfair.com and www.andersonfairthemovie.com. We’re so very proud to offer Matt’s music on MyTexasMusic – pick up your copy today and become the newest Matt Harlan fan!!
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