by Adrian Gandara
Matthew Squires’ 2017 release Tambaleo was a major step forward in the evolution of the singer-songwriter’s recordings. Visions of America, his latest release, more or less stays the course.
His updated sound clicked for me catching him at his album release show at Independence Brewing, out in the relative boonies of industrial parks south of Ben White Boulevard. The new Matthew Squires is less solitary indie auteur and more filled-out honky tonk band. At the brewery, the barroom music benefited from the evening heat, a smell of lumber and hops, and a modest crowd relaxing for the weekend with beer and song.
There was an intimacy hearing Visions of America in such a space that I don’t imagine you would get in quite the same way hearing it in, say, a more traditional venue like Cheer Up Charlie’s or Hotel Vegas. The album may be more country than anything Squires has released before, but his music and his persona still show his familiar off-kilter idiosyncrasy. It’s a honky tonk band with a bent. A Texas group that could only make sense in Austin.
I’m not sure Visions of America is as strong as Tambaleo, but it’s a definite direction Squires has set himself to, and just like the stylized and mythological America that Squires’s lyrics inhabit, it trudges onward.