So many perks, so many cool events, so many goodies and “what-nots.” When I look back on my days in music distribution, you never knew from which angle the next cool thing was going to hit you. One of the things I liked best was when one of the labels would bring in someone to perform at our conventions. That was the way that this lovely songbird’s music would be introduced to me.
Yes, it now has been over 20 years. How much did I love this record? Well, like I said, it’s 20 years later and I’m still playing it, I’m still telling people about it, and now I’ve taken to even writing about it. People who are familiar with Matraca (pronounced “Muh-TRACE-a”) Berg’s career might be asking, why are you spotlighting a 20 year old album when she has one that’s just seven months old? Why, we’ll get to that one too, and soon, but I want to introduce our readers that don’t know about via this album first. It’s that special.
When this was released in ’91, Matraca already had a nice career as a songwriter. She had written numerous hits for others, including Reba McEntire, T.G. Sheppard, Ray Price, and Patty Loveless amongst others. Oh, by 2011 that list would eventually be pages in length, and in 2008, Matraca was be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. I knew a good one when I saw her in ’91 folks! Interestingly, I don’t really consider this a country album. It’s more folk or Americana to me. It’s good, I do know that.
I bet there were about 150 of us there, she did a solo performance. Many of her songs are touching ballads with lyrical concentration a must. Like the saying goes, you could hear a pin drop except for of course, Matraca’s voice and acoustic guitar.
The song that just pops into my mind at any time, even after all this time, is the beautiful title cut, “Lying to the Moon.” I ask that you give this a listen via the playlist below. I have studio and a live version from television. This song, like most of the album was written by Matraca along with her then songwriting partner, Ronnie Samoset.
Highlights are the album opener “The Things You Left Undone,” The bluesy, “I Got it Bad” “Calico Plains,” a great ballad “Alice in the Looking Glass” and the song that was the first single, “Baby, Walk On.” If you’re an 80’s music fan, you may remember the name Jim Photoglo. He co-wrote “I Got it Bad” He had a few hits.
The album was produced by guitarist Josh Leo. Our locals may remember him from his work in the Eddie Boy Band. Now that was a long time ago He’s had a nice career too. I remember seeing him playing guitar with Jimmy Buffet years ago. He would also produce albums by acts like Timothy B. Schmit.
You could tell that Matraca had Nashville’s support on this one. Look at some of the players that helped her flesh out these tunes. Bernie Leadon, Sam Bush, EmmyLou Harris, Harry Stinson, Wendy Waldman, Willie Weeks and even the great Mark O’Connor. That’s some talent, and it’s not just Nashville’s best either.
Please give this one a good long listen. I also have her website listed below under links. When there, check out her newest album, The Dreaming Fields, on Dualtone Records.
— Larry Carta
- The Things You Left Undone
- I Got It Bad
- Lying to the Moon
- I Must Have Been Crazy
- You Are the Storm
- Calico Plains
- Appalachian Rain
- Baby, Walk On
- Alice in the Looking Glass
- Dancin’ On the Wire
- Acoustic Guitar – Bernie Leadon, Biff Watson, John D. Willis, Josh Leo
- Backing Vocals – Ashley Cleveland, Clara Callaway, Coleida Callaway, Emmylou Harris, Harry Stinson, Sudie Callaway, Tracy Nelson, Wendy Waldman
- Banjo, Mandolin, – Bernie Leadon
- Bass [Cheap Fretless Bass] – Willie Weeks
- Cello – John Catchings
- Drums, Percussion – Harry Stinson
- Electric Guitar – John D. Willis
- Fiddle – Lisa Silver, Rob Hajacos, Sam Bush
- Keyboards – Gary Prim
- Mandolin – Sam Bush
- Oboe – Bobby Taylor
- Producer – Josh Leo, Wendy Waldman
- Steel Guitar, Guitar – Bruce Bouton
- Steel Guitar, Guitar – Dan Dougmore
- Violin, Viola – Mark O’Connor
BONUS VIDEOS: Live versions of Lying to the Moon tracks.