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SAMMY STRITTMATTER

 “All I Hear Is Go,” the opening track on Sammy Strittmatter’s new album, Get Out of the City, sets the tone for the artist’s ambitious fourth full-length release. On first pass, it is a fuzz-driven straightforward rock song in the vein of Fleet Foxes with a wall of harmonizing vocals and swirling guitars, but on closer examination of the lyrics, the conflict between the sorrows of leaving and the enchantment of the unknown, which is the heart of Get Out of the City, is revealed. This is an album for those who find themselves somewhere between longing and resolve. “A lot of these stories are love songs,” Strittmatter says. “Love songs about things ending and moving on.”

The undercurrent of Get Out of the City––staying and going, pushing and pulling––mirrors Strittmatter’s life journey between his hometown of Arlington, Texas, where he released his previous albums, Last Night in Oceanside (2008), Moon Orange Lips (2010), and Here but Gone (2012), and Los Angeles, where he now resides. The eponymous track, “Get Out of the City,” follows a conversation one might have at the end of a relationship, after the fighting is over and acceptance begins: “I was already thinking that it might be that time/You were already thinking that I would turn your way.” Cavernous voices sing out over a Brian Wilson-inspired arrangement of acoustic guitars, mellotron strings, and glockenspiel. The ambient noises of a departing flight open “Casting Yellow” before dissolving into a passage of strings, dangling the listener mid-flight, before returning to the pensive, “We were memory hunting for sources/Some were cold she asked, ‘Was it bad?’/I said it was tremendous.”

Each song on Get Out of The City complements and contradicts, hopes then regrets, reaches out with abandonment before pulling back in fear. Strittmatter employs a simple yet effective philosophy, one he learned growing up listening to artists like Townes Van Zandt and Nick Drake: “Serve the song.” “They just sing,” Strittmatter says. “I’ve always looked up to artists who are genuine about it.” Two instrumental pieces on the album, “Matches” and “Zuma,” act as tasteful, minimalistic cinematic interludes, adding breathing space between the other songs while also creating shape and depth to the overall narrative of the album. “I would love to release a fully instrumental album,” Strittmatter explained, whose interest in instrumental music runs deeper than these album interludes. “That’s one of the reasons why I moved out here is to get into composing.”

In 2006, Strittmatter was thrust into self-producing after his band broke-up. “It was a challenge and really opened my eyes to the fact that I could do this,” he says. “I’d always admired Elliott Smith, Paul McCartney and Phil Collins. These are all people who played multiple instruments on their albums.” Since then, he has recorded and produced all of his records, on this latest with help from producer/label co-founder Salim Nourallah (Old 97s, Nicholas Altobelli, The Damnwells, Rhett Miller). When asked about the difference between being in a band and a solo act, Strittmatter says, “If something is not getting accomplished you only have yourself to blame. I have these moments of solitude and celebration. Happiness is to be shared but some of my happiest moments have been alone in the studio. It’s like puzzle pieces, putting together words and the songs. It’s awesome.”