Alaskan troubadour Matt Hopper is a singer-songwriter of the highest caliber. On his newest offering, a deft EP, Hopper eschews a band in favor of unornamented acoustic arrangements. With sparse instrumentation and good production, the songs sound warm and inviting. Hoppers smooth voice and unconventional guitar playing create a landscape of longing and love. Its an album that transports. Even with the bare arrangements there are plenty of well-placed studio tricks: reverse guitar intros, double-tracked vocals and even some whistling.
My favorite tune on the album is City Walls. It is one youll find yourself singing long after its over. It chronicles the first meeting of a girl and a guy and it sounds like they have that you-might-be-the-one feeling. In less capable hands, the topic has a high potential to sound like drivel. Hopper mixes it up and creates a fantastically hooky tune. He sings the verses from the guys perspective and then hammers home the girls response. After he asks her to buy him a drink and tell him a joke, the girl responds:I come from the country/ Beyond your city walls/ Ive got some stories/ But youll have to write to me and call/ I live alone/ but Im looking for one good one man/ and you could be him/ yes you can.
I caught Hopper the last time he was in townit was a great show. The crowd ate him upyelling out requests from The Gold Rush. When a technical problem threw him off and he forgot his own lyrics, Hopper began improvising, making fun of himself and commenting on the evening. The audience loved it and cheered him on. It made us all feel as though we were a part of the show and proved that he can produce not only an unforgettable EP, but also an unforgettable concert.
Hopper will be visiting us again on April 1 at the Big Easy. Sharing the bill are Kat Jones, Aspen Hollow and local songster Jeremiah James. Hoppers EP is available at Record Exchange and if you pick it up you won't want to put it down and you won't want to miss his show.