Best Acoustic Performer - 2005
Whether he's playing his own original material or singing songs that are 200 years old, there's no denying the ruddy, sparkling voice of Matthew Sabatella. His recently released Ballad of America takes a look at the American folk music of the 1800s, Sabatella's nimble guitar and brassy, tremolo-laced vocals accompanied alternately by banjo, fiddle, accordion, and hoop drum. Older albums A Walk in the Park and Where the Hell Am I? show his knack for catchy, yet brainy, songwriting and interesting chord changes on his laid-back acoustic guitar. But Sabatella's best asset is easily his voice, urgent but unforced, sweetly melancholy in telling personal stories and powerfully evocative in rendering antiquated songs intimate again. It's a great gift, and Sabatella wields it with exceptional talent.