"I'd say the record is eclectic but focused," drawls the Central Arkansas native in response to a question regarding the nature of his debut record, The Sound & the Story. The answer betrays his unique mixture of down-home sensibility and pointed intelligence. With songs ranging from poignant country to high energy, toe-tapping rock to Americana inspired, lyric-centered ballads, one thing is for sure; the record covers a lot of ground. "I don't feel like one sound or style represents me, so I just pick and choose my favorites and mash them together." This sentiment is conclusively proven on the record.
Acclaimed Houston-based singer/songwriter/producer John Evans shares these sentiments. "Stell's sound is like a shot of whiskey, but more Southern Comfort than Crown Royal. He's got a smooth grit to him. He's a fresh breath of old school." With Evans producing the record along with Mikey Ferrara and Stell himself, the sound that Evans describes is evident throughout the record. One thing is for sure, The Sound & the Story is a fresh take on Alt-Country and Americana from an artist quickly on the rise.
A native of Central Arkansas, Stell spent his formidable years splitting time between his familial home north of Little Rock and the Florida Gulf Coast. A basketball scholarship took Stell to the Midwest where music first began to creep into his life. "Music was always a part of my life but it wasn't until college that I picked up a guitar and started to try and write my own music. I sat in front of my computer and squeezed out three chord country and delta blues songs that I thought none of my friends had ever heard of." To Stell's surprise, his friends loved these songs and he and his guitar became a fixture at house parties around Drury University. Ultimately, this led Stell to compose original works, which were received even better than his covers.
As luck would have it, a venue catering to Alternative Country opened up a few miles West of Stell's college town of Springfield, Missouri. This bar, the Snorty Horse Saloon, provided the eager but inexperienced Stell with an outlet for his music and a crowd anxious to hear his original work. Stell quickly built a fan base that remains fiercely loyal to this day. Touring takes Stell and his newly formed band, The Crashers, from Oklahoma and Texas to the Mississippi playing his unique brand of rock, soul, country, blues... basically Southern music. He has shared the stage with the likes of Cross Canadian Ragweed, Eli Young Band, Chris Knight, Jason Boland, John Evans, No Justice, Adam Hood, Grayson Capps, Micky and the Motorcars, and the John D. Hale Band to name a few. "Matt Stell & the Crashers have so much potential it's scary. We have become close friends in recent months and those guys are as friendly as they are talented," remarks John D. Hale. "We look for excuses for them to play shows with us."
The Sound & the Story is a fresh collection of sounds that gives Americana, country, and blues fans something to enjoy. It effortlessly blurs the lines that separate these genres and creates a sound that, while sometimes hard to define, is always coherent and seamless. "I started this record with tropes and character sketches. I feel like what I ended up doing was chiseling a sound out of distinct but connected parts. It sounds like the western part of the South I think." With the addition of the Crashers--Adam Freitas on harmony vocals and lead guitar, T. Joey Rowlett on harmony vocals and bass, and Matt â€˜Teaspoon' Richardson on drums--The Sound & the Story comes to life with soaring gritty tones, driving bass lines, and funk-tinged beats.