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Matt Flinner Trio

Article Published: Feb. 9, 2012 | Modified: Feb. 9, 2012
Matt Flinner Trio

‘Winter Harvest’

A good song can take days, months, sometimes years to write. For Matt Flinner, it takes only a matter of an hours, or even minutes.

The Matt Flinner Trio is comprised of the mandolinist and his bandmates, guitarist Ross Martin and bassist Eric Thorin, all of whom are experts at their instruments and have an exceptional ability to put together a song. “Winter Harvest,” their second album together, was released by Compass Records on Jan. 31.

“Winter Harvest” realizes the acoustic trio building upon a unique project they started shortly after forming in 2006. The three men, who came together after crossing paths in the Colorado music scene, tested their songwriting capabilities to the maximum on their 2009 debut, “Music du Jour.” On the tour leading to the album, the band operated on a policy requiring the setlist to have a brand new entry from each member every night the band hit the stage.

The result of the Matt Flinner Trio’s work ethic is 200-plus songs created from 70 shows. Like their previous album, “Winter Harvest” contains songs created backstage, in airplanes, hotel rooms or the car on the way to the concert. Some were finished just mere moments before going on stage and received little to no rehearsal.

Any skilled musician can throw together a simple song, but for the Matt Flinner Trio, the task is treated diligently. The songs of “Winter Harvest,” favorites of the band spanning from their previous release to 2011, are of the utmost quality expected from professionals who read, write and perform their art.

Each unconventionally structured composition runs three to five minutes, is never encumbered by excessive solos and imagines a exclusive atmosphere. “Bucolic Futurism,” for instance, is represented by a leisurely beginning that progresses into stinging mandolin solo before reaching the guitar at the core. Moving out in reverse, the song reflects a changing countryside interpreted by a horse galloping until it reaches its stride, then slowing back to a comfortable pace.

The all-instrumental “Winter Harvest” is ideal for background listening and a perfect fit for studious activities. Intelligent players produce intelligent music, and the Matt Flinner Trio is of the brightest of the bunch. Flinner has been heralded as a contemporary mandolin great, and Ross and Thorin are undoubtedly on the same plane. Every note is clear, concise and always makes a point. There is no one song on “Winter Harvest” that fails to make the grade. Some, like the beautifully dreary “Bitterroot” and the iridescent title track, may be more captivating than others, but overall, the album has a shine that is impossible to tarnish.

Mandolin, acoustic guitar and stand-up bass devotees will be interested in the Matt Flinner Trio, as the band members demonstrates their instruments at their best, individually and collaboratively. Even those who are not players can admire the skill of Flinner and his crew.

Bluegrass and Americana fans will be drawn to the group due to its heavy use of the mandolin and acoustic instruments on the whole, but the Matt Flinner Trio is by no means relegated to those kinds of music, much less any specific label. Their music, containing elements of the aforementioned genres, as well as folk, jazz and chamber, is impossible to define.

Flinner, a man of a varied background, is much like those he is influenced by – Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Sam Bush – in that he embraces multiple styles and refuses to let his music have any limitations.

“Winter Harvest” is bold, but not showy. Flinner has no need to prove himself. He and his bandmates are only just doing what they do best, which is writing and performing music. Generating high-caliber work on a short turnaround is their specialty.

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