Review: Matt Stell & The Crashers "The Sound And The Story"

Matt Stell & The Crashers' new release "The Sound And The Story" was released regionally a few months ago in Southern and Central Missouri, Central Arkansas and Western Kansas where the band has received widespread radio airplay and toured extensively. Now, Matt Stell & The Crashers are ready to expand their territory to the rest of the USA with their own fiery brand of Red Dirt music.
Matt Stell is either really lucky, a good salesman or one heck of a charming guy. You see, Stell only began playing music while he was a sophomore in college. Within a few months, he became buddies with the owner of a famous local honky tonk in his Missouri college town who then introduced him to his future bandmates.

Now, when they're not headlining their own sold out shows, Matt Stell & The Crashers open for major label acts like Jason Boland, Cross Canadian Ragweed and The Eli Young Band. But it wasn't just luck that made Matt Stell a success. He wrote every song on "The Sound And The Fury." Plus, the high level of professionalism displayed on the album combined with the Stell's extensive touring schedule prove that this Arkansas country boy has an overabundance of talent, strong work ethic and enough country charm to make he and his band members country music stars.

The album's first national single is titled "Shirt." Matt Stell and his bandmates, Adam Freitas, Joey Rowlett and Matt Richardson, offer a stirring and soulful track that is a major success and is poised to move quickly up the country charts. On "Shirt," Stell's vocals are refreshingly authentic, and he sings with a quiet, but intense energy that is uncommon for new country acts.

"Plowboys Song" is a melodic, country gem. This track clearly shows the range of influences on the band, including traditional country, classic Southern Gospel, blues and Americana. During some points, Stell's vocal interpretation is similar to early Chris Knight tunes presented on "The Trailer Tapes" and "Trailer II." And that is a high compliment, indeed. Another classic country track, "Raining On The Inside," is a special treat that should be popular at Matt Stell & The Crashers' concerts.

But the best song on the album is the terrific "Sheepskin Road." This song deserves to be released as a single, and it presents every element necessary for a hit record. The track "Sheepskin Road" works on all levels: The vocal performance is impeccable, the instrumentation is almost perfect and the production is top-notch.

"The Sound And The Story" starts off strong with the rockin' and bluesy "King Of Caldwell County." The second track, "Meantime," is a soft, Sister Hazel-style cut. Later, the album picks up pace with the breezy "Troubles," which presents Matt Stell's vocals in fine form. "Troubles" is a catchy tune that has a Dave Matthews vibe which will make it popular with college audiences. "Southbound" has a similar style and could be described as Jason Mraz meets Stoney LaRue.  The interestingly titled "Cajun Army" and the folksy "Downhill" are also winners.

"The Sound And The Story" ends with the intensely soulful "Make Believe Man." However, one thing is certain to anyone who hears them perform: Matt Stell & The Crashers aren't "make believe" men. They're talented guys with a killer sound and an engaging story. So, on second thought, maybe Matt Stell is a quadruple threat with luck, talent and country charm combined with some good marketing skills. That's a combination that served Garth Brooks well, and it just might work for Matt Stell & The Crashers.