Matt Siffert‘s catalog is stacked, but his last release was nearly four years ago. That is plenty of time for the allure of music to fade, for his love of the art to wane–but it hasn’t and he didn’t. Seeking out a crowd-funded project, titled Gallatin (out July 21), the singer and songwriter returns with “You Left and You Didn’t Say Goodbye,” which premieres below, a quite luminescent folk song pushing and pulling his vocal across a gentle but driving breeze. “In my life as a writer, some songs come easily and derive from a definable, singular place. Other songs take a long time to write and evolve as I write them, which is how this song came to be,” he tells B-Sides & Badlands over a recent email. The simplicity and poetic nature shimmers onscreen in the accompanying visual: it’s playful but profound, fluttering between visions of himself but remaining concrete and tangible.
“I hear the echo of my old decree,” he opines in earnest inside the first verse. “But all the sounds are foreign to me. Where are you for all of this? To greet the darkness with the bliss. No farewell letter, no reason why. You left and you didn’t say goodbye.”
“Elements of it have been with me for several years. A lot was added and revised. Looking back, I don’t know if the song is about one thing or person,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of coming and going in young adulthood. There were times when the song was about friendship, times when it was about romance. Sometimes, I was talking to myself.”
The lead single from Gallatin, the delicately-adorned track exhibits his personal truth and his evolution as a performer and musician. “I’ve improved in so many ways–my harmonic language has deepened, my production skills are stronger, my vocal technique has grown. Perhaps, most importantly, I’ve grown in my ability to make my varied musical background congeal in a unified way. I felt this song encapsulated my evolution better than any other on the EP.”
The visual, often filtered through Corvette reds and grainy rust, was directed by Travis Commeau, a “visual artist based in East Nashville,” in his home studio. “We had a great time collaborating. Travis had all of these incredible ideas on how the imagery was going to look. I am a hyper-detailed music arranger, which means I am hyper-sensitive to making sure elements emerge and disappear deliberately. I wanted that specificity to be mirrored in how the glitching unfolded,” Siffert explains. “It started with Travis. the glitching effect you see in the video began with glitch photography that he had been doing before we collaborated. I was blown away by the impact; his work is both psychologically deep and visually stunning. I proposed the idea of doing glitch visuals in video form, hoping that it would have the same impact, with the two forces creating something that is greater than the sum of its parts.”
His emotional performance was an understanding mammoth task during the shoot. “I channeled different spirits at different points in the filming,” he says, which presented through various outfits and saturation effects. “So, acting them all–and doing each one several times–was a real mental and emotional challenge,” he says.
With such touchstones as Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Radiohead and The Strokes, Siffert knows a little about the power of his word. “I want to funnel what I learn from being aware into what I write about. My sound is coming together, but I’ve only begun doing this. Songwriters wield a powerful sword. One that harnesses the literal power of language and the abstract power of music. When an artist finds their own vocabulary in both, their work can penetrate deeper than most any other blade. I’m just trying to get there.”
The Gallatin EP was recorded inside The Brown Owl, home to Russ Long (Miley Cyrus, Mandisa, David Crowder), Chris Kimmerer (Mat Kearney, Eric Paslay, sonicflood) and Mark Zellmer (Violent Femmes, Dailey & Vincent). Such musicians as Zac Cambria (bass), Luke Enyeart (electric guitar) and Will Honaker (keys) lend their talents to the project, which is engineered by John Helfrich and assisted by Gabe Price.