Northern Lights is the debut album from California songwriter Matt Stone. Twelve original songs span musical influences from contemporary Folk, Americana and west coast singer-songwriters.
The cover is an original painting by Dennis McGregor, renowned artist, illustrator and songwriter from Sisters Oregon. Dennis has been the poster artist for the Sisters Folk Festival for many years and his works evoke warmth, light, and the magic of reality fused into fantasy.
Presale: March 1, 2013
Radio: May 1, 2013
Early Fan Reviews:
"It is simply sublime - one of the best "works of heart" that I have heard in many years."
"An amazing work by Matt Stone. Very pleasant, easy to consume, hard to let go the images that are delivered on a magic carpet of pedal steal, B3, mandolin, percussion, bass, acoustic guitar, and the airy emotion of Matt's vocals."
"How beautiful and the songs express all that I value. 'Northern Lights' is a precious song... thank you, Matt! Wonderful...and highly recommended."
Produced by Dave Blackburn, with arrangements by Blackburn and Stone, this is a lush musical experience designed to support each song’s theme as well as the cinematic nature of Matt’s lyrics. Blackburn brings his significant musical background and production skill to bear in creating an album with a signature sound and high production values. The bulk of the album was recorded, mixed and mastered at Beat n Track Studio in Fallbrook, CA.
This album includes contributions from some talented musicians including Rick Schmidt (pedal steel), Dave Johnstone (percussion/drums), Dan DiPietro (bass and fretless bass), Rob Whitlock (piano, Wurlitzer and B3), Hank Easton (electric and slide guitar), Dave Blackburn (acoustic guitar), Dennis Caplinger (mandolin, banjo and fiddle), Dayan Kai (wood and silver flutes), Chris Kokesh (fiddle), and Radoslav Lorkovic (piano and accordion). The “Aurora Chorealis” consists of singers Robin Adler, Chris Kokesh, and Dave Blackburn.
Matt plays a James Goodall baritone guitar on this album.
Song by Song:
The Simple Things: The opening cut on the album, this is an up tempo song with deceptively simple lyrics that celebrate the daily small joys in life not to be missed. Best served with morning coffee or through headphones on your own early morning walk to your favorite spot. Dogs are optional, but highly recommended. Listen for the Aurora Chorealis consisting of Robin Adler, Chris Kokesh and Dave Blackburn.
Sweet Barcelona: This serves as Matt’s reminiscent love letter to the city of Guadi, sidewalk cafes with dogs waiting patiently on leashes, La Sagrada Familia, and late night tapas bars, and the people watching opportunities on Los Ramblas. Enjoy this one tableside in your favorite people watching spot.
Northern Lights: The title cut, this song is based on a cousin’s account of seeing the aurora borealis in her hometown along the Columbia River as a youth. The town went out to the local drive-in movie lot to watch the show in the sky. Rick Schmidt’s pedal steel paints the lights across the sky in this one.
Brown Dog: A consistent fan favorite, Brown Dog is an empathetic ode to the abandoned and tossed away of this world, but the deeper message is in the redemption of one man’s snap decision to swing his old pickup truck around, and find a friend for life.
Time Into Gold: An existential waltz through time and life. Dave Blackburn’s arrangement on this, his favorite track, elevates the experience. Savor these five minutes, which Dave, Dave, Dan, Rob, Rick and Hank have turned into gold.
China Clipper: It was near Christmas, and Matt’s Dad sent a story about growing up in the depression and receiving a toy metal China Clipper airplane from a charitable group, and what that spawned in the imagination of two young boys. The story inspired this song, remembering when flight was still very much a new and exciting prospect and newsreel heroes filled the screen. Here again, Rick Schmidt’s pedal steel takes us on a journey to far off lands as we imagine our way across the widest of the seas.
Fifty Two: Hop on board for this feel good ride. Mid century-Americana and mid life meet for a cold one and decide the future doesn’t look so bleak. Hank Easton’s slide guitar will keep you smiling all the way through.
Land of Broken Dreams: It is spring 2009, and the housing crash is taking its toll in Riverside County, California. Every block has several empty homes, weeds growing. As they are put on the market, the small things left behind are sometimes seen. The chilling thing about this ballad of lost dreams, is that every line was seen. The song was composed in the empty upstairs room of a bank-owned home in French Valley.
Apogee: Our relationships can been seen as planetary orbits with the push and pull of interpersonal gravity. This bluesy ballad is lyrically sparse with plenty of empty space to let it all sink in. Hank Easton delivers an exquisite solo.
Spirit of the Wolf: Written in a meditation, this story song told from the eyes of an enduring wolf spirit as witness, weaves together the fate of wolves and Native Americans. Always a show stopper. Best heard live, late at night, in a darkened room. The album track features Dayan Kai on flutes and Radoslav Lorkovic on piano.
Orion: A tender ode to mothers and the celestial hunter. A sweet tale of childhood, lingering memories, and a winter friend in the sky.
Trabuco: An epic ballad with a “wide open spaces” feel, this song speaks with the voice of an ancient sycamore lined creek. Many have named it, and many more will. The finale on the album, ending with a crescendo from the players.