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“When I was young, the artists that I really admired were the ones who always found a way to keep making music and expressing themselves,” Matthew Sweet says on the occasion of the release of his 13th solo album Tomorrow’s Daughter. “To me, those guys were the real artists, and I’ve tried to hold on to that attitude in my own work.”
The seasoned singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist is currently in the midst of a personal musical renaissance that’s seen him produce some of the most compelling and ambitious music of his three-decade career.
That description applies to Tomorrow’s Daughter, on which such instantly memorable new tunes as “Belong,” “Run Away,” “Lady Frankenstein” and “Out of My Misery” demonstrate his uncanny ability to tap into a bottomless well of pop history to craft music that’s effortlessly catchy yet deeply personal.
Tomorrow’s Daughter—the follow-up to the artist’s acclaimed 2017 set Tomorrow Forever—is a persuasive testament to the enduring qualities of Sweet’s adventurous, emotion-charged songcraft. The new album’s 12 songs abound with the punchy melodic sensibility, playful sonic experimentalism and introspective lyrical insight that have been constants in his expansive catalogue.
Tomorrow’s Daughter is the product of a burst of creative inspiration that followed Sweet’s 2013 return to his native Nebraska, where he reestablished his Black Squirrel Submarine home studio. This period yielded 38 brilliant new songs, 17 of which appeared on Tomorrow Forever. It instantly became clear that this potent body of work merited a follow-up release, hence Tomorrow’s Daughter.
“It just sort of became my next record,” Sweet says of Tomorrow’s Daughter, which like its predecessor is released via his own Honeycomb Hideout imprint but this time distributed by MRI / Sony. Both albums feature Sweet’s current touring band, comprised of guitarist Jason Victor (also a member of the recently-reformed Dream Syndicate) and his longtime rhythm section of bassist Paul Chastain and drummer Ric Menck (also known for their own acclaimed work with Velvet Crush).
“When I put together Tomorrow’s Daughter out of what I’d recorded, the 12 songs totally made sense to me in sequence,” Sweet explains. “I enlisted some of the people around me, friends and family, to listen to everything I’d recorded and pick their favorites, and everyone pretty much agreed on what was the top stuff. I think it stands up as a separate record, and as a time capsule of the time that we made it.”
The distinctive musical and lyrical qualities that illuminate Tomorrow’s Daughter have been hallmarks of Matthew Sweet’s work since he began making music as a high school student in his native Lincoln, Nebraska. While attending the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, he became active in that town’s burgeoning underground music scene, as a member of the now-legendary indie combos Oh-OK and Buzz of Delight, and in collaborations with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Chris Stamey of The dB’s.
A demo recorded with producer Don Dixon led to solo deals with Columbia (which released Sweet’s debut album Inside in 1986), A&M (1989’s Earth) and finally Zoo, which issued his commercial and creative breakthrough Girlfriend in 1991. Girlfriend won raves from critics and established him with a wide international fan base that continues to support him today.
Sweet continued to reveal new layers of songwriting depth and sonic creativity on his subsequent efforts Altered Beast, the spin-off EP Son of Altered Beast, 100% Fun, Blue Sky on Mars and In Reverse. His musical gifts continued to shine into the new century with Kimi Ga Suki, Living Things, Sunshine Lies, Modern Art and the Under the Covers series, a three- volume collaboration with Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles (Sweet also served as producer of the Bangles’ 2011 album Sweetheart of the Sun).
“I can barely even fathom it,” Sweet says of his massive body of recorded work. “But here I am, so I try to live up to whatever it is I’ve established so far. To do the work is the really important thing to me, but knowing that I’m connecting with people makes me happy. I’ve continued touring pretty consistently, and it’s nice to see that people still care enough to come out to the shows. There seems to be a real emotional attachment for them, which means a lot to me.”