Every once in a while, an album comes along that makes you want to sit back, pour yourself a strong one, and listen. Not just ‘listen’ but close your eyes, open your mind, and soak in the soul of the songwriter as they slowly reveal the inner workings of their mind through a tapestry of deftly woven words.
In the midst of the white noise and mayhem of a music saturated town like Denver, Matt Hoffman’s debut album as New Mexican will emerge as one of these records. Fans of his other projects will be welcomed in by an album that borrows enough from his band Strange Americans to be familiar while still bringing something new to the table. With Take It On Our Shoulders Hoffman’s weathered tenor and unique perspective paints an intricate portrait of a landscape affected by the rising cost of education, and the difficulties of things like finding and keeping work and trying to buy a home or make the rent.
Musically, the songs on Take It On Our Shoulders are perfectly suited to a booze-fueled afternoon on the dusty mesas of New Mexico, and while the lyrical images reference mining, factory work, and farming, they can just as easily apply to the masses working nine-to-fives in the city. As acoustic guitars drown beautifully in fuzzy drums and feedback, Hoffman’s stories play out on a bleak and washed out stage that may be depressing to some, but is reality to so many others. In his own way, this New Mexico native is taking cues from the likes of Waits, Steinbeck and Hemingway as he strives to shine light on the plight of working-class men and women in our time — and while that’s not always pretty, this record has very few blemishes. — TD
High Alpine Brewing | Sept. 15
Tully’s | Sept. 22
The Forge Publick House | Sept. 28
The Ubisububi Room | Sept. 29