ALBUM REVIEW: Vestibule Blues by Matt Stell

A "vestibule" is defined as the passage before an entrance, and that makes "Vestibule Blues" a fitting sophomore album title for singer-songwriter Matt Stell, who has traveled a long way since his fine debut album "The Sound & The Story." However, Stell is still on the cusp of widespread recognition, and "Vestibule Blues" proudly proclaims that the artist is ready for the big time - on his own terms.
The album begins with a story-in-song titled "Robert Tatum" and features Stell's deep, rich country voice. Indeed, "Robert Tatum" proves to be the perfect start to the Morrilton, Arkansas native's album, and Matt Stell's lyrics constantly highlight the viewpoint of  hardworking men and women.

The heartfelt "Memphis On The River" is a triumph of the highest order, and Stell's vocal performance has improved since his first album dropped in 2009. The song has a comfortable melody and features a confident performance. "Break Me Down" has much of the same charm and features a retro-country melody that works.

Stell's Arkansas heritage is celebrated in the inspirational cut "Piney Woods." The song itself is a bona fide hit, but the pace may need to be slightly increased along with more of a contemporary country (or harder Red Dirt vibe) to get radio to take notice. Likewise, an artist like Blake Shelton could make "Piney Woods" a Number One country chart hit, which proves that Stell is a great songwriter.

The bluesy "Speak Once More" is the album's biggest surprise, and it shows a new side of the Arkansas singer. The title cut "Vestibule Blues" offers thought provoking lyrics and is the album's best track. However, the Americana song "The Way You Are" is a close second as it shows the vulnerable side of the golden voiced country boy. The anthemic "Walk Away" proves to be the perfect end for the album and is probably the most radio-ready cut. The song provides a moral lesson, offers a compelling hook in the chorus and showcases great production and instrumentation. In short, radio program managers should immediately add "Walk Away" to their playlists.

"Vestibule Blues" showcases an artist who has truly found his purpose with a signature bluesy country/Americana vibe which illustrates that Matt Stell will soon be leaving the "vestibule" by joining the party at the top half of the country charts.

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