The first time I heard about Matt Latterell, it had to do with local group Zoo Animal, a band that he now plays in regularly. After acquiring a copy of his second album Life On Land, I gave it a listen. I was into it immediately. The music pulled me in, and I didn’t want it to let me go.
Real good music, makes you feel something almost immediately. Discovery and the process of listening are like falling in love or becoming great friends with someone. Except it’s not real, and I had never met Matt, and didn’t know him. It was his music, but it had a definite emotional connection.
Of course I became friends with Latterell on Facebook, to track his music making, I noticed when he had moved to St. Cloud and was wondering when he would have some new music out. The story of the time between Life On Land and his new album Phase and Field is covered in detail this City Pages Article that came out a few days ago.
Latterell writes a ton of songs, and it comes easily to him to bang them out. Then comes a process of selection. “Make time, write a lot, throw most of it away. I’m getting better and better at being appropriately ruthless about it” said, Latterell.
While it’s easy to say inspiration comes from life experiences and daily challenges. Any songwriter or writer knows that you tend to take those ideas and emotions to different levels of embellishment. Latterell admits there are certain inspirations, “Sure. But it’s all coated in fantasy, and filtered through a superficial knowledge of philosophy.”.
The recording process can be an arduous task for some musicians, and while Latterell took on most recording duties himself, he did have some help. “There aren’t many high-fives. I need to be comfortable, and I’m self-conscious about putting others through my shit. My collaboration with Eric Martin (engineer) was very compatible” said, Latterell.
The final songs that came from that recording are lush and beautiful, this summer I had stumbled upon this video of Latterell playing at Art-A-Whirl. I was excited it was a song that would be on an upcoming new album. The Song “Blanket Town” has an amazing arrangement on the new album, but live and more stripped down it sounds amazing as well.
“I favor songs I can deliver with just a folk guitar. I’m not a perfectionist with live arrangements” said Latterell when asked about crafting songs in the studio that he will eventually play live.
There are many things to like about this new album, and while there are some influences heard, Latterell seems to have come into his own. When asked about his influences he mentions a local band. “Dark Dark Dark. Their songwriting is second-to-none, and they’ve got impeccable taste. They never demeaned the craft. Nona’s voice is supernatural.”
On the fringes of the local scene, slowly moving inward and creating something we all can enjoy, Latterell always seems busy and working on multiple projects. His main concentration is getting this new album out and playing the release show, and then those other projects and, of course, a new album hopefully sooner than later will grace us with its presence.
At the end of every interview, I always ask if there is a piece of advice about anything, what would it be. Latterell came back with a piece of advice that maybe we all should heed. “Be skeptical of advice.” My advice to all of you is to check out this new album, see Latterell live. Don’t be skeptical, and enjoy his music like I have been.