50thirdand3rd

Matt Duncan – “Free Music” Soul Step Records – Album Review

History often repeats itself in music. While the mainstream devotes a lot of attention to the 80s and early 90s, indie artists have been for quite a while. Ahead of this fluctuation has been Matt Duncan with his brand of indie R&B. Combining elements of soul, pop, and folk, Duncan’s output hits all the right notes in terms of sound, texture, and feeling. Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to cover most of Duncan’s releases, but now my personal favorite, Free Music is being pressed on vinyl by Soul Step Records, there’s finally a release showcasing why Matt Duncan is one of the most interesting artists in indie music.

What began as an exercise in experimentation Free Music has become the go-to album for Matt Duncan.

For a short period of time from 2015 through 2016, Duncan would write and record a song his bedroom and release it for free on Bandcamp on the first Wednesday of each month. “Until I run out of ideas, time, or the world ends.” he joked on the page. I don’t know Duncan personally, but when an artist offers up original music for free, it usually means he or she doesn’t feel confident in the product or it doesn’t fit their current narrative. However, there’s absolutely no way an artist wouldn’t be confident is music this good! Instead, I’m sure these tracks were just a few of many ideas floating around in Duncan’s head.

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“I’m a workshop not a factory!” Duncan croons on “Tell You What I Know”. As we all know, workshops start from the ground up and factories mass produce. From the bouncy, blue-eyed soul jams like the aforementioned “Tell You Know What I Know” and “Light Bright”, Free Music begins with its roots deep into the AM 70s but tips its toes in the 80s with “Chutes and Ladders” and “Somewhere In Between”. But there are hints of Beck-esque folk/jazz sprinkled throughout like the album’s closer “The Jordan of Strange” that prove Duncan isn’t here for nostalgia.

With songs this memorable, it would’ve been a crime to let them be forgotten on bandcamp. But Soul Step Records swooped in to the save the day!

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As with previous releases from Matt Duncan, the indie label Soul Step Records has given Free Music a home on vinyl. With an album with thick lows and multiple layers of instrumentation, its naturally satisfying to hear this album on the format. Unfortunately Free Music isn’t free (hey artists and labels have bills too you know) but I promise there will be no buyers remorese adding this modern classic to your library.

For more information on Matt Duncan, visit matt-duncan.com

To purchase Free Music on vinyl, visit Soul Step Records.

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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