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Wired to be Vulnerable 

Acoustic Americana archetype Matt the Electrician is an open book

A song portraying the very personal struggles a spouse goes through when losing a parent is about as forthright as one can get with their musical craft. And that's just what listeners get with woodsy Austin singer/songwriter Matt Sever, aka Matt the Electrician: the hard truth.

Rather than shroud such events in metaphor and vague sketches, Sever tackled that very real event when he wrote the heartwarming song "I Will Do the Breathing" for his 2011 album Accidental Thief. Sever clearly describes driving to the memorial service and delivering a eulogy, and stitches together comforting promises to his wife after the loss of her father.

He talked more about the inspiration for that song and the lyrics relating to birds and breathing with Amy Sondova from Backseat Writer: "My wife is a visual artist and she began creating a series of drawings and paintings that were based around images of a deep sea diver mask and feathers, among other things," explained Sever. "In the chorus I borrowed some of the imagery from her artwork to let her know that I was there."

With the release of Sever's eighth studio album It's a Beacon It's a Bell last month, the once actual electrician maintains the burden of exposing very intimate details of his life. Though, unlike past records that featured songs draped in vintage tinged violin, horns and Wurlitzer organ, this album is instrumentally stark. Instead he relies almost solely on his Sam Beam-like voice—equal parts Texas-strong and Northeastern-tranquilizing—and his trusty acoustic guitar. It's the perfect combination for someone perpetrating the comforting feeling of listening to a grandfather telling stories by the fire while sitting in a hand-carved rocking chair.

The new album might even be more simplistic than his previous efforts; perhaps the result of fatherhood and the ability to interact with a now-adolescent daughter. In fact, the album's standout track, "Muddy Waters," was inspired by a drive around Austin where the pair shared very different perspectives on what they were seeing around town.

Truthfully, Sever's skill is the ability to see the obvious—often the stuff others are too busy to notice—talk about it warmly and rest in the satisfaction that something personal has been shared.

Matt the Electrician

7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24

The Belfry

302 Main St. Sisters, OR

Tickets $10 at bendticket.com

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...
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