Documenting all the joy and wonder and heartbreak and confusion of life in your early 20s, Matthew Fowler’s stunning label debut, The Grief We Gave Our Mother, is a profoundly personal work of self-discovery and introspection, but more than that, it’s an ode to growing up and chasing dreams. The songs here wrestle with love and loss in the face of ambition and independence, and the arrangements are captivatingly complex to match, layering dynamic guitars, breathy woodwinds, and lush harmonies into a transcendent soundscape that blurs the lines between traditional roots music and experimental chamber folk. The result is a record that’s at once bold and timid, hopeful and anxious, world-weary and naïve, an honest, revelatory collection all about forging a life of purpose, passion, and meaning.
Born and raised in Florida, Fowler fell in love with music at an early age, and by 19, he’d already self-released his debut and begun booking his own cross-country tours. Critics were quick to take notice, with American Songwriter praising Fowler’s “earnest, strummy songcraft” and The Bluegrass Situation proclaiming that his “assured, velvety vocals are rivaled only by the intimacy of his lyrics.” In addition to helping Fowler land support slots with everyone from Richard Thompson and Damien Jurado to Angel Olsen and The Weepies, the music also caught the ear of acclaimed producer Shane Leonard, who invited Fowler to Eau Claire, WI, to complete work on The Grief We Gave Our Mother in 2020.
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