Album Review – Matt Maverick’s “American Dream”
You see it all of the time on social media, especially on Facebook. Some no name from somewhere posts a video of somebody covering an old classic country song, and it goes viral due to how surprisingly astounding the amateur singer is, and how much so many of us miss the old songs that you never hear coming from mainstream country music anymore. The simple fact is that most novice country music singers performing in their living rooms likely sound better and have more talent than whatever is oozing out of corporate radio these days.
This was certainly the case with Matt Maverick when his wife secretly recorded a video of him singing “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, and posted it on Facebook in 2020. Sure enough, it went viral, with this guy from northeast Arkansas only used to singing in Church and at family gatherings all of a sudden gaining legitimate fans, and being encouraged to pursue music as more than just a hobby.
These instances of viral Facebook videos aren’t super rare, but it is rare is when they actually result in something more—meaning the performer takes the viral moment, and piggy backs it into a legitimate pursuit of music. That is what Matt Maverick has done by now releasing his debut album called American Dream that is anything but average, or amateur.
If you’re a true country fan and can appreciate the Tyler Childers and Charles Wesley Godwins of the world that are all the rage at the moment, but really prefer country music that reminds you more of George Strait and Alan Jackson, Matt Maverick will be right down your alley. Country music that is well-sung, well-written, and well-executed, American Dream is everything you want from a country music album.
Instead of cobbling together a few local pickers and renting a budget studio, Matt Maverick decided to go all out for this one. It’s really not rocket science of how to make a great country record. You need the voice and passion of course. But after that, gather together some good songs, head to Nashville where the best pickers in the world reside, and pull out all the stops. The investment is very often worth it, as is evidenced by this album.
Recorded at the Hilltop Studios in Nashville, American Dream features Brent Mason on electric guitar, Bruce Bouton on steel guitar, Aubrey Haynie on fiddle and mandolin, and a bunch of other Nashville ringers bringing Matt Maverick’s vision of revitalizing traditional country to life.
But anyone can hire the right guns to make them sound good. It’s really the songs of American Dream that make it stand out. Very smartly, Matt Maverick took some of the best of his own compositions, and mixed them with contributions from others to fill out a really stellar traditional country track list. That way his personal stamp is on this record (he writes or co-writes four of the songs), but he also proves he got a good ear for a song just like his country heroes, and selects good songs that fit his style, and he can sing the devil out of.
Songs like “Run,” and “Happy Hour (Shouldn’t Be So Sad)” written in part by Jenee Fleenor are great country songs. But Maverick’s originals like “The Grass Ain’t Always Greener” and “What Country Is To Me” slide right in without any issue. Some may find the song selection a little sappy, and the ultra-patriotic “Line In The Sand” may be a little too bellicose or worn out for others. But American Dream really does feels like an album that if it was released 30 years ago, would have launched a big country music career.
Is not that anyone can be selected out of the population and put together something better than today’s pop country. It’s that the effort to scour the countryside and find the next great country music talent just no longer occurs like it used to, which means hidden gems remain out there just looking to be found. But when you take the time to dig and discover one like Matt Maverick, boy is so rewarding.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
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Purchase from Matt Maverick
January 17, 2022 @ 10:17 am
Man, this just makes me so happy. Good to see a back porch picker get some recognition, and make some damn good music. I heavily subscribe to Elijah Wald’s take that the health of a genre is best measured at the local, not the national, level, and this is a wonderful example that country music is alive and well.
Good on ya Matt Maverick. Way to make it happen.
January 17, 2022 @ 11:59 am
Reminds meof the late, great Daryle Singletary❤
January 17, 2022 @ 12:24 pm
Great to see new artists coming! The album it’s a great recording! I liked his voice! Tks for sharing it! Steel Guitar, Fiddle, great guitar too! Country Music!
January 17, 2022 @ 1:31 pm
So we are calling The Dance a country classic now? As an intellectual exercise I guess I agree, and Tony Arata is a cool guy and great writer but it always seemed like AM adult contemporary to me. I could picture Celine Dion performing it. Anyway, it sounds like this guy is doing what he loves with an incredible backing group so I hope he finds his audience and makes enough money to get a house with a guitar shaped pool!
January 17, 2022 @ 1:51 pm
I think it’s without question that “The Dance” is a country standard, meaning its an essential in the arsenal of any country cover band, and has been performed by many other artists. I understand Garth is a polarizing figure to some, and “The Dance” is definitely more of a contemporary ballad than a hard country song. But it’s one of the most critically-acclaimed and well-recognized country songs of all time.
January 17, 2022 @ 4:31 pm
Considering that I was in the shop Saturday and another guy was listening to the classic rock station and Green Day came on, I tend to agree, it is a great song no question. And Tony did write it in the early 80’s so the longevity is also true. Maybe I need to hear a couple other versions because Garth has always had a sheen to his music that never turned me on, but given his influences that is not surprising. I guess since the 90’s was the time I started to lose interest in radio it seems weird that some consider it classic. But I am not a very good target demographic and have no problem with other people loving music I do not.
January 17, 2022 @ 2:11 pm
But if Celine Dion recorded it, the vocals would be unrestrained, the percussion prominent for emotional reaction, plus synthesizing of the piano/keyboard. What we have here with Garth is restrained and measured vocals, minimal percussion (keeping time), plus straightforward and real instrumentation. This is not only a country record, it is a classic for good reason.
January 17, 2022 @ 5:05 pm
“… minimal percussion …”
Minimal percussion is a good thing?
Don’t go to a Rob Leines concert.
Percussionist in that band is an animal.
The guy KILLS it.
Your Celine Dion reference is interesting.
Kind of like comparing an acorn to an oak
Thom's Country Bunker
January 17, 2022 @ 2:05 pm
Once again this review is 100% correct. The is a fine record. Better than fine… but yes, “Line In The Sand” WAS a little too bellicose & worn out for me! But who cares. How many albums don’t have tracks that are a little… questionable…?
I hope this dude continues in the vein and can do the business live! I
January 17, 2022 @ 3:18 pm
Sounds good… The cover art, however, is atrocious
January 17, 2022 @ 11:38 pm
Bad cover art is a sign of a good independent traditional country record. Any traditional country artist worth their salt is perfectly ignorant to the image trends of the times, or how to use Photoshop. Go check out the cover of the last Tim Culpepper album and tell me I’m wrong…
January 18, 2022 @ 12:18 am
Tim Culpepper is legit. Still not the worst album covers tho… Lookin’ at you Brad Paisley
January 17, 2022 @ 3:27 pm
I’m all for giving the underdog a boost.
But uh… An 8 is pretty generous on this one.
strait county 81
January 17, 2022 @ 3:52 pm
the ultra-patriotic “Line In The Sand” may be a little too bellicose or worn out for others.
Should of just said it’s not a song endorsing policies of the left like Isbell or Sturgill would put out so readers of SCM won’t like it.
No reason to dress it up.
January 17, 2022 @ 3:55 pm
Man, you left a similar comment like this a few months ago. I can’t imagine making more clownishly wrong assessment, and on multiple levels.
January 17, 2022 @ 4:35 pm
Yeah I’m not picking up “ultra patriotic” vibes from this song. It’s honestly pretty quaint compared to the clumsiness of other artists like *cough cough* Aaron Lewis. The second verse is about blue-collar Americans being overtaxed and how Wall Street gets free reign over the economy without any accountability. Left or right I think we should all be angry about that truth. I could do without the religious references but eh you gotta pick your battles.
January 17, 2022 @ 4:15 pm
Gave me some Wade Hayes/Jim Lauderdale/George Strait vibes. Some good songs on here.
January 17, 2022 @ 4:48 pm
Listened to the album. It’s not bad. In fact, I would say it’s good. But it just doesn’t scream originality in any way..yes I can hear some of that strait, jackson type influence and I agree it’s better than what’s generally on the radio. Definitely got that country western vibe. I don’t know if it’s the right word but pedestrian just kind of comes to mind. However being a first album, it’s not too bad especially for someone who apparently wasn’t looking to do this originally. But otherwise the album doesn’t really have anything that really stands out and hooks me in.
January 17, 2022 @ 8:09 pm
I like it, fiddle check, steel guitar check, country voice check. Yes, this is a guy I can get behind. Somebody mentioned Daryl Singletary, yes good comparison. Thank you for reviewing this. Also, somebody mentioned the album cover, if I had to have a nice album cover or spend extra money on A list Nashville musicians I would take the A list musicians 10 out of 10 times. Matt probably bankrolled this himself, glad he gave himself a chance to succeed with song choice and pickers.
January 17, 2022 @ 9:53 pm
Was the cover made by Saul Goodman Productions? I love it!!!
January 18, 2022 @ 7:38 am
While I like this, I have the same complaint for this that I have had for several popular Country and Americana artists out there. It just kinda sounds generic. It’s sounds like someone copying old standards rather than someone influenced by them and making it their own. I know this will age me, but it reminds me of the old Ronco records advertised on TV where they would take studio musicians and make albums of classic songs. The musicians were good, sometimes better than the originals, but the albums just didn’t have the soul of the original recordings.
January 18, 2022 @ 9:40 am
Man, this would have killed in the 90’s. Sound like stuff Tracy Lawrence or Tracy Byrd would have cut. I love Alan Jackson but I don’t really get an AJ vibe from it. I’m not really digging it but I’m sure there is an audience that will love this stuff. Hopefully he’s not 25 years too late.
January 19, 2022 @ 12:52 pm
Simply awesome.Happy Hour just won me over; contemporary, but warm enough to recall rhe good old days of (the 90’s). Very much Alan Jackson/Tracy Lawrence/George Strait, but newer enough to be distinct. Put on your Wranglers and Fryes and do the twostep with your partner in the kitchen kind of vibe going on here!, (Such a change from the current pop country drivel and stifling, elitist “hipster coffeehouse country”…free of Tacovas and carhardts😎👍)
January 19, 2022 @ 3:58 pm
I’ve wished for a while that I could get a decent looking T-shirt that simply said something like “Thank God for Alan Jackson,” but lately I’ve been thinking I want one that says “Thank God for savingcountrymusic.com.” Once again, Trigg, you’ve introduced me to someone I really, really enjoy.
Your review was hitting all the right notes, but when you mentioned Brent Mason you had me…and that first listen did not disappoint. That is rare.
Keep up the good work, Trigg. You are knocking it out of the park.
And…..let us all know when we can order the t-shirt.
January 20, 2022 @ 12:34 pm
Wow! What an excellent album! Yes it does sound like George Strait but if you look at Country Music history, everybody learned their music from everyone else! A great listen!
January 23, 2022 @ 2:52 pm
I really enjoy this album. Probably not for everybody but sure does fit my listening pleasure.