Matthew Szlachetka (pronounced SLA-HET-KA) is out on tour in support of his new album release, Heart Of My Hometown. Rolling Stone Magazine praised the album, citing Szlachetka as a ‘New Country Artist to Know.’ That was evident as many Angelinos packed into the Second Stage venue at Hollywood’s Hotel Café on Wednesday night. The music was Americana roots rock superb, the storytelling honed the heartland spirit, and with the added chemistry of Szlachetka’s full band— it was transcendence into musical nirvana.
The minute Szlachetka crooned into the steel guitar opener, “Algebra,” the audience knew it was on a heartfelt journey. Bathed in blue stage lights and clad in a button up faded shirt and jeans, Szlachetka exemplified raw emotion and musical prowess. Delicate guitar strums coupled with rich, warm vocals. Electric guitars cranked up for the rock n’ roll road trip anthem, “Ready to Run Again,” forcing everyone up on their feet.
Szlachetka followed with the titular, “Heart Of My Hometown,” which prompted many cheers from the audience. Szlachetka bids farewell to his home place in route to a new adventure as he sings, “Farewell/ don’t look back just make ‘em proud/ No matter where I go/can’t let go to the heart of my hometown.”
Szlachetka’s talented bandmates had their own time to shine in the set: Dave “Mustang” Lang (organ, keyboards) brought out the funky soul swag in the Ry Cooder cover of “Jesus On the Mainline,” Derek Brown (drums, percussion) and Kurtis Keber (bass) flawlessly held down the rhythm in “Until That Echo,” and Jillinda Palmer (vocals) and Samantha Smith (vocals) harmonized pitch perfectly in “Don’t You Think It’s Time.”
Heartfelt life lessons were shared in the latter half of the set. “Wildflowers On the Highway” teaches us to look for the beautiful things from the uglier parts in life. In light of the untimely death of a close friend, Szlachetka sorrowfully shares the importance to cherish life in “Cheated Time.”
Closing with the upbeat “Back Into Your Heart” off the Waits For a Storm to Find the album, Szlachetka was greeted with blazing smiles and hearty handclaps as the show came to an end.
Matthew Szlachetka performs his eclectic twist on the Americana subgenres, bringing together singer-songwriter sentiments, country western, 1970’s California roots rock, and so much more. His songwriting captures plenty of emotional moments on par with legends like Jackson Browne and Jason Isbell. Szlachetka and his band deliver a top-notch intimate performance worthy of a big stadium.