Music Review: Matt Turk – Washington Arms

Sometimes a song reverberates long after its original release date. The phenomenon is more common in authentic folk music than in the ephemeral pop marketplace. Such is the case with the “Silver Ring,” a contemporary folk rock tune penned by singer-songwriter Matt Turk.

“Silver Ring” was first released on Washington Arms, a 10-song album from 2006. Bursting with ringing acoustic guitar chords and tasteful electric riffs, the song and album highlight Turk’s talents as composer, vocalist, and guitar player. Accompanied by drummer Kevin Hupp and bassist Kevin Jenkins, Turk creates a textured musical sound on both melodic ballads and uptempo rockers.

On “Silver Ring,” the trio is joined by keyboardist C.P. Roth, whose organ playing adds yet another dynamic to the song. In fact, it is no exaggeration to hear in “Silver Ring” a 21st Century development to what The Band was conjuring up in a famous basement at “Big Pink.” “Silver Ring” blends together together Turk’s troubadour-rooted vocals, the instinctive interplay of acoustic and electric guitars, the sound space opened for dramatic organ fills, and the steady underpinning of bass and drums.

Turk’s lyrics connect personal feelings to universal truths, locating them in a particular time and place. The silver ring represents affection for nature in waves, shells, and sand dunes; affection for neighbors like an “old fisherman” fixing nets and ferry passengers “looking for happiness”; and of course affection for a special person symbolized in a “Silver Ring around my heart.”

Where “Silver Ring” is deeply personal, Turk chooses a “big picture” song from the 1970s as his only non-original on Washington Arms. He produces an inspiring interpretation of “I’d Love To Change The World,” Ten Years After’s only hit single in America. While retaining the song’s anthemic aspirations and acoustic guitar passages, Turk makes a passionate statement that spotlights his own rootsy singing and playing.

by guest contributor Joseph Tortelli