Matt Nathanson Is Working on Being "Honest All the Time"

When you've made ten albums over the course of 20 years and your songs have been featured on countless network television shows, you can feel pretty assured that you've hit on a successful formula. Yet if you're singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson, you might feel there's some reason to tweak your trajectory, make music from a more personal point of view. With his latest album -- the tellingly titled Last of the Great Pretenders, released this past July -- Nathanson courts a more personal narrative, drawing on real life, everyday encounters in his adopted hometown of San Francisco. In a way, it serves as an intimate view of the city itself, a typical day in the life, with Nathanson serving as guide.

"On this record especially, there are more specifics in the lyrics," Nathanson agrees, speaking from a stop in New Orleans in the midst of his current tour. "I didn't want to round off the edges of the narrative at all. In the past, I sort of edited out the specifics in the lyrics, because I felt like nobody wants to hear about these little moments in my life. I'd make the songs a little more broad and a little more easily misunderstood. With this record, I left all those specific streets and those specific places and times and experiences in. And the songs feel a little more like stories. I'm still in every one of them, so it's hard to extricate myself and just kind of be someone who's trying to explain the situation. I'm still pretty invested."

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Lee Zimmerman