Chicago’s Matt Christensen began the year by teaming up with Slow Planes’ Tim Breen for Different Cliffs – a journey that brushes across the landscape of experimentation and instrumental music.
Don’t Fall Down Your Own Well marks the year’s first solo release for the Zelienople singer, which will undoubtedly be the first of many in the weeks and months ahead.
Any recording artist should take a leaf out of Christensen’s book, for he releases new music with an almost mythical efficiency. Having interviewed Christensen last year, he spoke of his creativity process:
“I try to write one record at the time, I tend to not be able to move on to the next one until I get that other one out. So if anybody does want to do what I’m trying to do, what I’m doing and how I maintain that work ethic – I don’t worry about the schedule.”
Christensen is a regular throughout these pages. His body of work not only prolific, but also high-watermark. It’s one of modern music’s great crimes that his art doesn’t reach a wider audience. Because of this, it would be flagrant negligence on our part should we not cover his new releases as much as we do.
So with that we arrive at Don’t Fall Down Your Own Well. A man of few words where social media is concerned, when Christensen posted on his Instagram page that he was “happy with this one” it sparked the senses.
And he wasn’t wrong. Starting off with a gentle thrum, with the opening title track we are met with an eerie ballad that cuts through the darkness of the night. Almost like a Neil Young lullaby with the emotional intensity of Low. Seatbelts follows a similar path, with a twinkling reverb and gentle drones, passing off a spatial vibe.
“This world keeps getting harder all the time,” sings Christensen on Alcohol. His sleepy melodic vocal ambling down the lonesome road in search of that elusive golden path. Alongside the equally gorgeous Bordertown, these two songs are the centrepieces to Don’t Fall Down Your Own Well.
Meanwhile, the prairie hum of Shake the Rattle rings with tenderness, filling the ears with bliss. Thematically, it’s enveloped in the staple Christensen themes of existential anxiety, but here he juxtaposes this story with sounds that make the heart skip a beat.
Alongside the slowcore-inspired King of Grass and reverb-drenched Bound to the Forest, these songs feel loosely connected to Christensen’s excellent 2021 album, Constant Green. Songs that focus on reflection and escaping your own reality in search for solace elsewhere.
Whether Christensen has found that aforementioned golden path remains to be seen or heard. Constantly creating, and ostensibly immune from recording filler, no longer is a new release from Matt Christensen a surprise. A true dispenser of songs to ease the burden of reality, his songs are like self-appointed guardians to the soul.
There may be albums from Christensen later this year and beyond that exceed the excellence of Don’t Fall Down Your Own Well, but make no mistake – this is another in a long line of triumphs.
Don’t Fall Down Your Own Well is out now. Purchase from Bandcamp.