Warning: You are about to experience the dark side of Matthew Logan Vasquez.
Delta Spirit’s front man’s third solo effort, ‘Light’n Up,” captures the dynamic Texas singer-songwriter amid a season of deep despair. Vasquez wrote nine introspective songs in solitude while separated from his family during the darkest part of winter after loneliness set in.
The day after Christmas in 2017, Vasquez’s wife, and their son moved to Norway to be closer with her Dad, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. With a record to make and a tour planned, Vasquez had to stay behind.
“If a record is the sum of a chapter in a person’s life, this is a yearbook for me. It’s who I was then. It’s what I was thinking and feeling — all the heartbreak and longing,” Vasquez said. “I usually don’t go this dark and put so many sad songs on a record.”
Even the up-tempo tunes, “Ball Pit” and “Trailer Park” come packed with internal conflict that makes the vibe on “Light’n Up” a 180 from the hard-rocking intensity of Vasquez’s previous solo records “Solicitor Returns” and “Does What He Wants.”
On “Poor Kids,” Vasquez reflects on defining struggles of his childhood — poverty, losing faith in religion and being sexually awakened too soon. His friends Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope contribute haunting harmonies on the chorus.
Wild Child singer Kelsey Wilson, a member of Vasquez’s brainchild super group Glorietta, and vocalist Taylor Nix of Atlantis Aquarius contributed dynamic backing vocals. Austin’s Judson Johnson, a staple in Vasquez’s touring band, handled drumming duties.
Master multi-instrumentalist Spencer Garland (PR Newman, Black Pumas) added electric guitar on “Character Assassination,” and played accordion on “I Love My Boy,” Vasquez’s lamentation on missing his son, Thor.
“Light’n Up” closes with “Oslo,” featuring angelic strings played by the Parkington Sisters backing Vasquez’s lyrical portrait of his struggle to come to terms with a new life in Norway and and all he left behind in Texas.
“This record is about a period in life we all go through. There’s a season for everything, and for me this one was all about struggle, relationships and fear of change,” Vasquez said. “If anyone is feeling the way I was feeling maybe these songs will be there for them.”
“Light’n Up” is set for a February 22 release on Dine Alone Records.