Matt Wilson & His Orchestra

When I Was a Writer

Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Matt Wilson fronted the band Trip Shakespeare in the late ’80s and ’90s. A genre unto themselves, the band was known for its big-energy spontaneous live shows, and intelligent yet quirky songwriting by Wilson and his brother Dan. Alas, Trip Shakespeare was the (my) generation’s Big Star: critically acclaimed but limited commercial success.

Wilson started writing songs again in 2015 after a hiatus, and he’s working an acoustic and piano rather than a Strat these days, accompanied by a harp, banjo, and bass. Still, the soul of his songwriting is immediately familiar. I resonated with the interplay between the sometimes prominent harp and Wilson’s 6-string in the gently percussive songs, which are chock-full of his signature big vocal harmonies projecting his somewhat melancholy, sometimes despondent lyrics. When I Was a Writer is inspired writing and playing, and it’s a treat hearing Wilson doing his thing again.

Must-hear tracks: “Decent Guy” and “Space Cruising”