The freewheelin’ Matt Wabnitz and his merry band of Hustlers take their name after the Cincinnati area from which they originated. They play Folk-Americana music, and they do it in the kind of hellblazing, barnburning, footstomping way that rejuvenates, enriches and enlivens the intent and aspirations of that style of song. This is music that has a pulse and a heartbeat. This is music that breathes.
The six-song collection is entirely comprised of cover material, from Woody Guthrie to Willy Tea Taylor. To say they are merely reciting other people’s compositions and words is to turn a deaf ear to the miracles they are able to achieve. They inject such feeling, purpose, soul, meaning and combustible energy into each song you’d think you were right beside them, doing what they do, saying what they say, feeling what they feel.
Matt’s confident vocal deliveries strongly convey the heft of the lyrical material while managing to etch in subtle marvels (check out his almost-indiscernible chuckle as he confesses “I see the mornin’ light/Though it’s not because I’m an early riser/I didn’t go to sleep last night” on Bob Dylan’s “Walking Down the Line”). This is a man who knows and inexhaustibly studies the craft that goes into a song. And he’s chosen a group of singularly talented musicians who identify with that knowledge like it were a kinship. Together, they make it sound easy. They make it a good time.
You’ll want to take a ride in this Lincoln over and over; there’s nothin’ else quite like it.
A special thanks to Dylan Michael Bentley for the guest album review. It is a pleasure to add his contributions to Vocals On Top. You should go check out his music at https://www.facebook.com/dylanmichaelbentley.