This seven-song release proved to be an unexpected treat. I came to Matt Glickman’s new album Live from Starks, Maine 10.1.22 not knowing what to expect, unfamiliar with Glickman in any way, and finished my first pass through Live from Starks, Maine 10.1.22’s seven tracks utterly convinced about the keyboardist’s talents. Additional listens further fleshed out the extraordinary depths of Glickman’s vision and the boundless promise of his future. There’s an abundance of riches scattered across the album’s seven tracks as well as surprises. It’s a release that you can listen to more than once and continually come away with something new.
I come away from the opener “Steady as Footprints” convinced that Glickman is every bit as skilled of a lyricist as he is a composer. Despite favoring the instrumental side of the ledger much more than the verbal, “Steady as Footprints” nonetheless powers through on the back of its extraordinary balance between these elements. It’s almost ten minutes long, but never wearies you. The biggest, though not only, reason why is that Glickman’s capacity for musical invention never wavers.
“Color Fields” adopts a similar tact, but it’s much more condensed. We lose nothing of his arranging and melodic power, however, even in a smaller frame. The warm and in-your-face sound of his piano is, for me, the defining character of this release and it never fades. “Color Fields” is one of the most unique unions of that sound and the impassioned voice that the album offers. Transitioning from this into “Secrets of the Sages” is one of the release’s high points. This track deserves special note for how closely the singing and the piano work adhere to one another without overshadowing the other.
His arranging talents are in full evidence. I am also blown away by his ability to shift between the extended compositional values of songs such as the first track and the shorter, more abbreviated, approach of this song. The bluesy overtones of the track “Maybe It’s For the Best” gain a great deal from the vocal interplay between Glickman and guest singer Darby Sabin. It takes what might be a retro release in the hands of lesser talents and makes it a thoroughly modern listening experience.
He ends the album in grand fashion. I never expected to hear any cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Unbroken Chain” in my life, much less a piano-fueled one such as this that pushes against the twenty-minute mark. It’s worth every second. It’s a song that doesn’t enjoy the same renown as many other Dead cuts, but Glickman never treats it as such. His emotionally affecting piano work carries much of the load, yes, but it’s his singing that puts a final touch on the piece that makes it unforgettable. It’s an ideal closer as well.
I’d recommend this to anyone, not just jam music fans. Matt Glickman isn’t freelancing without rhyme or reason during the extended tracks. Instead, he commands the larger canvas of those numbers with gifts that transform the everyday into something special and breathtaking.