Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Three days ago (at the time of this writing), Matt Bauer posted a photo on his website that couldn't come any closer to describing the music he makes without using a single word. It's a photograph of a photograph. The one being held is a black and white portrait from many decades ago. It's full of a moving and saccharine feeling of days long gone. The stunning young woman in the picture is of his mother and it's one of those photos that become heirlooms. They become the quintessential frozen points in time that - when looked upon long after they were taken - the comment is made that there that person was when they didn't have a care in the world. The implication is that things didn't pan out the way that they likely thought they were going to when they were staring into that lens of that camera on that day, when the smile was stronger than a team of horses and warmer than a million embraces. His mother is looking toward the sun and it's causing her to squint some, but you can sense in her face that she's happy. Right then, she's so, so happy. Life has been good and there's no reason to believe that this will change anytime soon for her. Bauer is holding this photograph and you can see his thumb there in the corner. There's another photograph on the page of a dead blue jay on a deck and we can see his bare toes. The photos that he chooses to post on his site seem to be of bits of time that say more than words every could. They actually breathe off the screen, off that matte finished paper. His mother has so much to tell us, without being able to say a thing. We want to know if she had a good life after that day. Did things work out for her? We know she had a talented son and for many, that sort of living on, is the epitome of all that matters. Perhaps, that kept her beautiful and happy. Bauer, as a writer, focuses on those moments that fail to cease. They continue on and they make you worry about them for longer than you'd admit. You want to hear more about them. You'd like the other pieces, for their sparseness and their dances in the gloaming light is enchanting. He sings about those people, places and things passing in the night. It feels like most of what he's interested in occurs during these pitch-black nights, where we can sense that we're not alone, but we can never be sure. We want to know what's out there, what's more. We want to know what's brushing against us, cutting through the air unseen. It seems to be a part of us, so we yearn. He yearns.