Matt Fawcett is a musical artist unapologetically grounded in tradition, yet relentlessly vital. His artful blending of country and contemporary Christian music peppered with bluegrass sets him apart from the vast majority of country music coming out of Music City, i.e. Nashville. Furthermore, his deep Midwestern roots round out his character in satisfying ways he embraces without even a dollop of shame. He is himself and nothing more. Intelligence lights his songwriting up with fierce creativity and a willingness to expose himself emotionally without cliché or trope. Some may, but it is unlikely that Fawcett considers himself a retro artist. His latest single “Run” shows how he sees and hears the aforementioned styles as a relevant artistic vehicle rather than a hollow tribute to days gone by.
It opens with a cymbal flourish before segueing into the song’s first verse. Fawcett is a lyricist with welcome moral authority, but never hectors or points his finger at listeners. His voice has a literal tone, and he never dresses up his singing as anything less than passionate honesty. He has deceptive range, but its primary merit lies in its strength. He tailors his voice to fit the message of each line and leaves you a little breathless when he throws the full weight of his vocals behind key lines in the song, especially its chorus.
The musical arrangement keeps things simple but ideal. It never leans on the thousand and one cliches dragging down cookie cutter country and has rock leanings that does not rob its essential character. The name of the game, as before, is an undisguised message that the instrumentation reinforces at every turn. Artifice and meaningless tinsel find no purchase in this track. Keen-eared listeners will hear, as well, his strong grasp of dynamics in both the vocal and musical arrangements. The transitions from verse to chorus and back again are spotless and there’s a strong sense of this song emerging whole from Fawcett rather than being pieced together from disparate parts.
You cannot help but applaud the way he weaves his deeply held personal beliefs with accessible music anyone can enjoy. Moreover, Fawcett’s obvious intelligence pops every line. He has the phrasing of a born writer and there is no groping for words or meaning; he began the recording process for this song with a clear-eyed understanding of what he wanted to say and how to get there. Such creative self-assurance is rarer than we like to admit and hails from the conviction of his beliefs.
“Run” is a song everyone can get behind no matter whether you are a believer or not. Fawcett makes a wise decision constructing the song in such a way that it does not appeal to a niche audience but, instead, has something important to say to us all. It is ultimately about finding a life-affirming port in the storms of existence and the redemptive potential of knowing your foundation. We need music like this more than ever before in these turbulent times.