Album Review: The Suitcase Junket – Pile Driver

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”—no one knows that better than Matt Lorenz, a.k.a. The Suitcase Junket, who has taken trash to make musical treasure, and beautifully displayed it in his forthcoming album, Pile Driver, out April 21st.

Lorenz has assembled 12 tracks showcasing his bluesy, fuzzed-out guitar—also a dumpster find—along with a host of junky creations, some of which include a drum pedal outfitted with a baby shoe, suitcases, chicken bones, a cigar box, and a boxer bell. What’s most intriguing about The Suitcase Junket is, however, that Lorenz is a one-man-band; I’ve had the jaw-dropping pleasure of seeing him perform live, and while his recorded music is spectacular, you can’t fully appreciate the wonder of The Suitcase Junket without acknowledging Lorenz’, well, coordination, but also his ability to render soul-shaking sounds from found objects.

After the first droning notes of album opener “The Next Act,” which features a wailing Lorenz and some dirty, stanktastic guitar licks, he hits that boxer bell, and I’m down for the count. He fully explores the expansive elbow room under the all-inclusive Americana umbrella—from hot and sweaty blues on tracks like album standout “Evangeline,” to Chuck Berry-esque rootsy rockabilly on songs like “Jackie,” to New Orleans-tinged swagger on “Swamp Chicken,” he manages to gracefully and cohesively dance between each realm.

Lyrically, Lorenz makes the usual stops at the front doors of love and loss, but his unique phrase-turning gift makes old subjects seem new. “She had nice sweet potatoes, and cornflower hair, strawberry mouth, and a peach under there/I said ‘I could just eat you up all night,’ now I’m down on the ground ‘cause the girl’s got fight,” he soulfully sasses in foot-stomper “Evangeline,” about a love interest that gives him a run for his money (with extra emphasis provided by the boxer bell). “Overwhelmed and underpaid/Trying to hold onto our faith/That what we built will hold us up/We emptied out our loving cup,” he sings about the plight of the worker in “What Was I Gonna Say,” and optimistically encourages an open-minded and creative approach to life in “Seed your Dreams.”

The Suitcase Junket’s “Swamp Yankee” style moves something deep inside me; his music is utterly American, reflecting beauty handcrafted with elbow grease and ingenuity, but it’s also consummately human. Lorenz reminds us that, like his instruments, no matter how broken we are, or whether we’ve been discarded by the mainstream, we are still remarkable, useful, and most of all, valuable.

Purchase Pile Driver, out April 21st via Signature Sounds: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/pile-driver/id1206958354

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Susan Hubbard

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