Matt Townsend
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Matt Townsend

Asheville, NC | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Asheville, NC | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Rock




"On the Culture Front: Music from the Underground, Part 6"

Matt Townsend’s voice exudes a warmth that’s reminiscent of Harry Chapin, but if you listen closely, his lyrics can have a biting criticism more in line with the pointed fury of Bob Dylan. The drummer, Bill Berg, who played on Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks,” keeps the beat on Townsend’s new EP “The Drifter and the Dream Part One.” Recorded in the singer/songwriter’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, the album’s five tracks express a breadth of creative impulses. The opener, “The Great American Madness” rages against the entrenched racism woven into our country’s history along with the industrial military complex. Framed as a long explanation of the title’s diagnosis, weighty lines like “it builds a brand new enemy to sell the same old war” flow with rhythmic ease. The middle two tracks suffer from a lack of specificity, but Townsend finds his voice again on the scathing “Freedom is Calling” with a rousing refrain, “rise up!” - Huffington Post

"Matt Townsend – The Drifter and the Dream (Part 1)"

North Carolinian folk artist, Matt Townsend, having previously released an EP and LP, and been featured on a compilation album with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, is working on a new double EP called ‘The Drifter and the Dream’. Lucky enough to get my hands on ‘The Drifter and the Dream (Part I), I’ve given a listen to this five-track EP of spacey, semi-electric, yet classic Carolinian Americana that Townsend is set to release on December 2, 2017. First performing in Burlington, Vermont, this solemn, and solitary-sounding folk singer has been peddling his original music across the United States since 2012, and has settled in Asheville, North Carolina.

Kicking off the album with ‘The Great American Madness‘, Townsend seems to twist a more country-fied version of John Denver, with some late Dylan, almost attempting to throw some of Dylan’s signature vocal lilts and lyrics, to sure up Townsend’s own unique qualities. A seemingly somber lament about the bloody beginnings of the United States, and its current lacking progress, “the new world in denial”, Townsend really captures a sense of the fading empire that America has become. Some simply sweet harmonies meet in the chorus to give a glimpse of the beauty that still pervades somehow, but the sparsity of it is clear.

Townsend ‘Came Down From The Mountain‘, to give us a bit of haunting Neil Young vibes, sharing with us yet again the degradation of the Western world; searching for love, with tortured hope. A solace discovered in the love of the Earth, and the shying away from civilization, discovering a peace in nature, free from all the deception and despondency: “Gotta find a way to make an honest place in the masquerade”…perhaps my favourite lyric of the EP, this harrowing tune of a search for truth and love in a world of fanciful facade is heart-wrenching. That sparse bit of harmony coupled with the constant and quiet cello, played by Franklin Keel, lift this track up in a most uniquely morose and munificent way.

‘Roaming Twilight‘, Matt Townsend really knows how to deliver a sweetly sorrowful that brings one to tears, while lifting them up with joy. There are always glimpses of hope in his rather doleful lyrics. Almost bringing a 90′s, Collective Soul or Creed feel into the shift midway through the song, with the strings ever present, on a lyrical search for something unknown, Townsend might draw out tracks with Dylan-like repetition, but somehow, if one focuses on the woeful, and wonderful words, one is captured, and cares little about said repetition.

In the tradition of 60′ protest, ‘Freedom Is Calling Again‘, with a notable attempt to capture Dylan’s vocal nuances, and semi-electric, keys laden, choir-chorused tracks, typical of the times. Even down to the slight organ. But there is a true Townsend touch here with the lap-steel, and quite country guitar solo. This is a type of tune that is certainly found to be desired these days.

0j0a5673Oh ‘Katie‘ opens with a hard gust of harmonica huffing. No album is complete without a sorrowful song of love. The simplicity of this song is what gives it such incredible weight. Wisely pulling all but acoustic guitar, vocals, and the occasional blow on the harmonica, the raw emotion of this song is so prevalent that it leaves the listener looping the track, unable to pull themselves from the languid lyrics of the heart-broken drifter, and his broken American dream.

Happy to have had an early listen to this EP, I’m frustrated by having to wait for ‘The Drifter and the Dream (Part II). Matt Townsend really encapsulates the, so far, un-prevailing zeitgeist of those pining people who refuse to wither away in apathy. Do check out and share this EP when it drops on December 2nd, and until then, enjoy the singles released thus far. Keep up to date with Matt Townsend right over HERE! - Swept Media


There’s a way to inspire people that’s more heartfelt than reposting a news article on social media and more meaningful than complaining to your colleagues around the water cooler. For Asheville, North Carolina indie folk artist Matt Townsend, he’s found a way of invoking social commentary through his passion. On his upcoming EP, The Drifter and the Dream part 1, Townsend explores the modern world and all of its rough edges with this exceptional collection of songs. They’re accessible and catchy, but they also pack important messages and something altogether lacking in much new music today– depth.

It’s also a release heavy on Americana. But even while he’s busy infusing the record with sonic flourishes that take you back to better days where Bob Dylan was king, Townsend flips that idea on its head by searching much harder than early folk pioneers. There’s a sheer lack of complacency here, and this music is all the better because of it. Townsend isn’t afraid to poke his finger on the black spots of his country’s history, including allegories to the hectic mess going on in the States at the present. Like Bruce Springsteen and Woodie Guthrie before him, Townsend channels in elements of folk, rock, and roots to create a great sound that doubles as a magnifying glass on his country’s pulse.

Townsend’s sound rounds out his earlier solo artist schtick to a full band makeup here. This music benefits by the use of organ, synth, cello, and other beautiful components that all help to set the tone and create a perfect landscape for his lyrics. Townsend, of course, pens all of these songs himself, which makes them even stronger in terms of communicating a strong message. The tunes here will elicit major emotional responses with the social climate as shaky as it is, but we really need artists like Matt Townsend right now to help balance the scale of democracy one way or another.

On the title track “The Drifter and The Dream”, Townsend intends to search for honesty and finding his place, doing some soul searching over a pristine string solo and a sharp, stunning percussionist complimenting his vocal. He attempts to nullify all the negativity of the “poison of the world” and its fake pretences (“Hey, gotta find a way to make an honest place in the masquerade / Hey gotta stay awake, feel our hearts and build a brand new way”). Later, the blatantly titled “Freedom Is Calling Again” holds a bit of an optimism in the palm of its hand while sneering at the jarring world head on.

These songs are certainly simple, but that’s what keeps them interesting. There is nothing superfluous here or anything added in just for the sake of doing so. The music is calculated in a stripped down format and only adorned with necessary components.

The mix of instruments accompanying Townsend lend well to his voice, but they also add additional layers to this music’s potency. When the songs slip into softer, downtempo territory, like the simpler, minimalistic closer “Katie”, Townsend is accompanied by a sole guitar strumming a single chord. It’s reassuring and impressive to know that he doesn’t need the fireworks of a full band to get his message across or to cover his voice. In fact, Townsend’s vocal is front and center here and sounds even better than when the full band is roaring behind him, so it’s nice he included a more stripped down tune to close out the EP.

Freedom is on Matt Townsend’s mind, and as he strums his harmonica in between verses, we are reminded of all the important folk artists born out of tumultuous political eras. This might just be Matt Townsend’s big moment, and the more people that hear this voice and the messages it sings, the better.

Listen to Matt Townsend’s “Came Down from the Mountain” ahead of the EP The Drifter and the Dream part 1‘s December 2 2016 release, courtesy of Matt’s Bandcamp page, below. Be sure to check out Matt Townsend on Facebook and Matt Townsend’s official website. - Lords of Dogwood

"ALBUM REVIEW: Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World"

Matt Townsend is something of a conundrum.

On one hand, his lyrics indicate a world-weary, vulnerable old-timer. His voice projects across the generations, so much so that any listener would find themselves Googling the album release date within seconds. But, at the same time, he is wholly modern. Not only in the way his Asheville folk-meets-rock sound bridges the gap between troubadours and guitar gods, but also the manner in which he conducts his business. His new LP, named after his full band, Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World, is a product of crowd-funding through IndieGoGo, drawing on friends and fans, and also kicking a little back to Arts For Life, an organization that uses music as therapy for people suffering from disabilities or illness.

So, you see, Matt Townsend is actually a good conundrum. Even better when you take a listen to his album. First track “Seventh Story” will sound familiar to fans of the Band in its modulations and simple arrangement, and is probably the most accessible on the album. Moving through the grittier “Hollow City Streets,” the sweet-sounding “Wind Without Rain,” and the Dylan-esque “Desire Like a Lion,” the collection reflects a perspective on modern folk drawn more from Phil Ochs than Marcus Mumford. The recurring thought from track to track is that this is an artist completely poised to break through; this is exactly the guy who could bring folk back to the Newport Folk Festival. Big things are coming for him, and it’s our pleasure to sit back and watch.

As Townsend himself says, “To me, creating art is ultimately about serving others. It is taking our individual experience and expression and giving it to the world in hopes that the world may better understand itself, or at least, feel something.” - Popdose

"Matt Townsend and The Wonder of the World - S/T (Eternal Mind Records)"

With the newest folk revival well upon us, it’s rare that any of it is actually good, and it’s even rarer to find it along with the heart and soul of Matt Townsend and The Wonder of the World. Channeling the sounds of The Band, upon the first whirls of the organ on “Seventh Story” it’s obvious the album is going to be a warm, comforting experience. The band is a well-rounded group of musicians with a core of four and eight pieces total floating in and out. With a voice as much Daniel Johnston as it is Dylan, Townsend casts a large shadow on the band’s new self-titled album.

Like the Felice Brothers, Townsend seems as if he’d been doing his own thing when he found himself amidst millions of folk-wannabes, for he really is the real thing and not an imitation. Songs like “Carry On” could have easily been found on an album like Blood on the Tracks but not out of imitation but because it’s just that good. Recorded in Burlington, VT, it sure sounds like it, but not in a recording studio as it was, but out in the dusty streets or in an old, forgotten bar long sent to derelict.

Many of the songs here sound like they could be sing-a-longs, but if so, it’s a merely a side effect, because Townsend and the band sound as if they’re singing and playing for themselves. Some of the greatest moments here are the quietest from the stripped-down “The Garden Where the Grass Forever Grows” to the intimate album album closer “Gratitude in Being”. It’s an honest and pure album, and Townsend is a face that will stay around for good no matter how the trends ebb and flow. Matt Townsend and the The Wonder of the World will be released on Eternal Mind Records June 23rd. - The Big Takeover Magazine

"REVIEW: Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World – ‘Self-Titled’"

Artist: Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World
Album: Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World
Genre: Folk, Acoustic, Indie

Matt Townsend and his extensive backing band have burst onto the folk scene with an impressive 9-track debut that spans 46 minutes of a dozen instruments and various voices coming together to create one helluva good time.

The album gets off to a commanding start with “Seventh Story,” backed by an impressive array of instrumentation that forms a solid folky foundation for Townsend’s lyrical stories to build upon. It takes but 20 seconds before we’re greeted with Townsend’s distinctive vocals which you can easily liken to that of Kristian Matsson (The Tallest Man On Earth) or even Dylan in style and tone—I’d even consider him a male counterpart to the Söderberg sisters of First Aid Kit. That’s completely okay, though. Townsend’s not trying to hide his influences or deny the fact that these acts have helped shape his sound. If anything, he’s paying tribute to the voices of these luminaries from vastly different generations that have inspired countless others.

“A lot of these songs were like lifelines to me. They were redeemers. When I wrote them and sang them they gave me a reason to keep going. They felt like gifts from somewhere I can’t see.”

The above statement was something Townsend told me recently in an interview, and it really stuck with me. I mean, that pretty much sums up any passionate creative person’s art for the most part and the kind of effect it should have on that creator. That notion is something that oozes from every track on this debut. As the album explores the very relatable themes of life, love, and all the ups and downs that come with those two enigmatic forces–and much like the works of Dylan and other timeless artists from earlier eras of folk and rock–Townsend’s fervor for his craft is clear and the outstanding instrumentation only adds depth and liveliness to his “redeemers.”

Whether you’re looking for something slower, more dramatic, and seemingly melancholic (“Wind Without The Rain”) or a more upbeat and uplifting effort (“Hollow City Streets”), Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World traverse that scope from one end to the other with ease. Everything I love about the folk genre is here and while Townsend’s voice can surely be considered an acquired taste, I personally took to it without qualm. If you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned acts, I’d imagine that you’d do the same. Regardless of that fact, though, Matt Townsend and the Wonder of the World deserve notice and this debut should set them off on the right path to find it.

SCORE: 8.5/10 - Under the Gun

"Matt Townsend, What Light Shall Be"

On his debut album, What Light Shall Be, Burlington-based songwriter Matt Townsend delivers a mature and smartly conceived collection of songs that enriches the local singer-songwriter treasury. This is a robust yet humble offering, an introduction that is satisfying in its own right yet hints at a wealth of potential.

Townsend generally sings in a plaintive style, especially when using his lower register. With a light, nasally rasp, his delivery is clean and unadorned. But his straightforward croon is efficient and puts the focus on Townsend’s nimble wordplay. This subdued approach also serves to heighten the contrast when he does let loose, as on the second half of album opener “The Garden Where the Grass Forever Grows.” Here the singer reveals a soaring tenor that grips with emotive power but doesn’t feel forced.

As an arranger, Townsend generally favors spare acoustic backing. Much like his vocal work, as a guitarist he is solid but not flashy. On “Gratitude in Being,” he backs himself with a pretty, fingerpicked sequence that lists and lilts under searching, melancholy prose. The playing is tasteful and understated, which is a hallmark and strength of the album’s six songs.

Likewise, Townsend’s lyrical turns, while occasionally precious, tend to be artful without being overbearing. With a confessional bent and sophisticated observational metaphors, he often connects universally while remaining personally vulnerable — a rare feat for a young songwriter. Like many newbie tunesmiths, Townsend can dig too frequently into his cache of influences — hello, Messrs. Dylan and Mangum. But that’s hardly a capital crime. And Townsend generally transcends rote hero worship by injecting enough personal style and wit to keep his musings fresh.

Matt Townsend is not a finished product. But his debut is roundly impressive and marks this local songwriter as one who bears watching. - Seven Days


Still working on that hot first release.



Matt Townsend is a Singer/Songwriter/Poet/Seeker/bandleader based in Asheville, NC. In December 2016 he released his latest EP, The Drifter and the Dream (part 1). Part one of a two part series, the EP is both a politically charged and introspective affair, showcasing a “breadth of creative impulses…[with lyrics] in line with the pointed fury of Bob Dylan” says the Huffington Post. He has performed at LEAF festival, the South Florida Folk Festival, and toured throughout the Eastern US.

On The Drifter and the Dream, which was recorded at the world class Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC, “Townsend explores the modern world and all of its rough edges with this exceptional collection of songs....Like Bruce Springsteen and Woody Guthrie before him, Townsend channels in elements of folk, rock, and roots to create a great sound that doubles as a magnifying glass on his country’s pulse." The album feature’s a host of Asheville’s surplus of musical talent (including Bill Berg, the drummer on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks). Townsend is also a featured artist on The Asheville Symphony Sessions, an album consisting of a collaboration between the Asheville Symphony Orchestra and Asheville-based recording artists. His Song “For Now We Are” was arranged by Michael Bearden (Neil Young, Michael Jackson) and is featured alongside fellow regional artists, Rising Appalachia, Steep Canyon Rangers and more. Tour dates and more information at

He Tours Solo and with his band frequently.

Band Members