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Matt Caflisch – Runaway (Fat Oak)

Matt Caflisch-Runaway
14 June 2020

Singer/guitarist Caflisch (AKA Matt Young) was previously in Eau Claire, WI’s Venison, Minneapolis’s ÜberScenester and J.U.L.P., and L.A.’s Hard Luck Country Club; two Runaway tunes, “Words So True” and “She’s Not Here for You,” also appeared on HLCC’s 2018 self-titled LP. His sincere, affable folk-pop is enlivened by his vivid words, as on the poignant single “Simple Wide Trailer,” which recounts his Wisconsin youth. And for keen-eared fans, he stealthily tosses in subtle music references, like the obvious Del Shannon 1961 #1 “Runaway” chorus (and, less obviously, lines from Muddy Waters’ 1950 “Rollin’ Stone” and Bread’s 1972 #5 “Everything I Own”) on the spunky “I Ran Away From Home”; the Bo Diddley/Rolling Stones “Not Fade Away” riff on “Paul Nelson (It Demolished Him)” (an ode to the 1936-2006 Minnesota-born A&R executive, magazine editor, and Sing Out!, Village Voice, and Rolling Stone rock critic); the Maxine Nightingale 1976 #2 “Right Back Where We Started From” disco/funk rhythm on “I’m in the City Now” (a humorous account of his move from WI to MN, where he finally met idols Hüsker Dü, recalling: “I used to dream about Hüsker Dü/Now I talk to [drummer] Grant [Hart] at First Avenue”); the Byrds-summoning couplet “Then the chiming/Turns to rhyming” (a sly nod to that band’s 1965 debut LP Mr. Tambourine Man’s Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger covers “Chimes of Freedom” and “The Bells of Rhymney”) on “Words So True”; and the Mamas and the Papas 1966 #4 “California Dreamin’” intro on “Winter Hates to Wait.” Finally, might the unnamed subject of “He’s Down the Line” be 1947-2011 Scottish singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty? Not only did Rafferty have a #12 hit in 1978 called “Right Down the Line,” but the lines “You played in a super famous band” and “He took his shot and now the bottle’s done” could be alluding to Rafferty’s popular 1972-75 group Stealers Wheel and his struggles with alcoholism, respectively. Okay, perhaps that last one is a stretch. But like a scavenger hunt, Caflisch will have you donning your Sherlock Holmes deerstalker cap and scouring Runaway for clues. (

(NOTE: In the version of this review that appeared in issue 86, I erroneously identified the subject of the song “Paul Nelson (It Demolished Him)” as the blues/rock guitarist rather than the late music writer and critic. I’ve corrected that here.)