Have you ever had a moment where you’ve realized that you were late to the party, that you’ve spent too much energy on trying to please the wrong people or you’ve been deceived by those closest to you? If the answer is yes then the rock-inflected folk music of DC-based artist Matt Tarka will speak directly to you. Weaving isolated moments of heartbreak and rejection into his songs he continues the traditions of artists such as Tom Petty, Wilco and Carole King.
These themes flow from his new EP, Vision Hazy - recorded at Low Watt Recording in Savannah, GA with Ted Comerford (Jukebox The Ghost, Jonas Sees in Color) at the production helm, and subsequently mixed by Mitch Easter (R.E.M, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr.) at The Fidelitorium in North Carolina. Taking his folk origins and unleashing them, with the help of the occasional guitar flourish or fluttering drumbeat, the record sees Tarka bolster his sound with a rockier element. Sonically it’s his most advanced creation to date.
The considered nature of the tracks belies the slightly chaotic nature of his creative process. Ideas are roughly written down on index cards, notebooks, on scraps of paper left under the bed in case of night-time inspiration, or recorded into a dictation machine. Out of these assorted thoughts come the lyrics, which then shape the sound of his music. Demos are recorded onto an old cassette recorder, giving them a timeless feel from the very outset, and order is finally formed from his disorderly ruminations.
It’s a process that has evolved since his debut in 2008, as Tarka continues to follow his muse. As he says himself, ‘don’t let anyone tell you what kind of music you should be making, or how you should be making it. There are enough outside distractions in the world. Be true to yourself.’ You can hear this mantra ringing out in his honest lyrics and heartfelt delivery.
In an intimate live setting Tarka’s music takes on a different lease of life, careening and questing further from his tight recordings. Having already played in Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC and DC (anywhere with a barbeque joint nearby), with new shows coming up there’ll be plenty of chances to hear the songs of Vision Hazy performed live. You needn’t worry if you’re late in discovering the sounds of Matt Tarka …. Now’s the perfect chance to catch up!