Matthew Fowler

Kingfisher Art Co., 7 East 2nd Ave., Rome

“Some people are good at separating themselves from their art,” says Matthew Fowler, “but I’ve never been able to do that. I live and breathe these songs every single day.”

Written over the course of the past several years, The Grief We Gave Our Mother, Fowler’s stunning label debut, is indeed a profoundly personal work of self-discovery and introspection, but more than that, it’s an ode to growing up and chasing dreams. The songs here radiate all the joy and wonder and heartbreak and confusion of young adulthood, wrestling with love and loss in the face of ambition and independence, and the arrangements are captivatingly complex to match, layering dynamic guitars, breathy woodwinds, and lush harmonies into a transcendent soundscape that blurs the lines between traditional roots music and experimental chamber folk. Fowler’s vocal delivery, meanwhile, is raw and direct, hinting at everything from Damien Rice and Glen Hansard to Ray LaMontagne and Ben Howard in its mix of gritty grandeur and vulnerable intimacy. The result is a record that’s at once bold and timid, hopeful and anxious, jaded and naïve, an honest, revelatory collection all about putting one foot in front of the other and forging a life of purpose, passion, and meaning.

“This record is the sound of me finding myself and my place in the world,” Fowler reflects. “It’s about real moments and real stories and real people.”

Born and raised in Florida, Fowler fell in love with music at an early age: at 14, he was already writing and recording his own original material in his parents’ kitchen, and the week he turned 19, he released his debut collection, a stripped-down batch of live performances aptly titled Beginning. Critics were quick to take notice, with American Songwriter praising Fowler’s “earnest, strummy songcraft” and The Bluegrass Situation proclaiming that his “assured, velvety vocals are rivaled only by the intimacy of his lyrics.” Two years later, Fowler headed to Gainesville to begin work on a follow-up, but instead of a three-week trip, as planned, the journey turned into a multi-year odyssey in which he learned to produce and engineer records and began managing a live music venue.

“Living in Gainesville, the album became this thing that I was eternally working towards, but never working on,” says Fowler. “With my job at the venue, I was coordinating all of these great shows and meeting all of these songwriters I really admired, but I was basically just facilitating other people’s dreams. Eventually, I got tired of showing up to work every day and watching somebody else do what I wanted to be doing with my life.”

So Fowler took the skills and insight he’d honed in Gainesville and booked a Hail Mary, open-ended tour with longtime friends and collaborators Tana and Addy Prado joining him on harmonies and woodwinds. Over the course of a year and a half, the trio played roughly 100 shows, fine-tuning all of the twists and turns in Fowler’s elegant, emotionally charged tunes and landing support slots along the way with the likes of Richard Thompson, Damien Jurado, Angel Olsen, and The Weepies.

The gallery has a BAR and will be serving beer, wine, and non-alcoholic refreshments.

PARKING is available across the street at Truist Bank.

DOORS 7pm, SHOWTIME 8pm $10adv/ $15 dos

$10 advance/ $15 day of show