“Hands Free Down Hill” marks Chicago songwriter Matt Tiegler’s triumphant return to the music scene after a substantial hiatus. This third studio offering takes a bold departure from his previous lushly produced record, “Gods & Heroes,” leaning instead towards a guitar-driven, power pop sound. While “Gods & Heroes” was an intricate tapestry of jazz, orchestral, and world music, featuring some of Chicago’s musical legends, Tiegler’s latest effort is a more straightforward yet lyrically robust venture.
Produced by Evanston’s own Tommi Zender and expertly recorded by John Abbey at Kingsize Sound Labs in Chicago, this album showcases Tiegler’s artistic evolution. Zender’s multi-instrumental prowess adds a layer of depth, incorporating guitars, percussion, harmonium, keys, and his own distinctive vocals, recorded in his private studio. The studio band boasts a roster of seasoned singer-songwriters, including the likes of Steve Dawson (of Dolly Varden) and Gerald Dowd (known for his work with Frisbie and Robbie Fulks), along with Lawrence Brown and Max Crawford (of Poi Dog Pondering fame).
Tiegler’s songwriting prowess shines through, demonstrating a newfound maturity and depth. The result is a collection of tracks that are both emotionally resonant and melodically infectious. Each note feels meticulously crafted, revealing a musician who has honed his skills over time. The inclusion of guest appearances by notable talents such as Steve Dawson and Max Crawford only serves to elevate the album’s appeal. In a musical landscape often dominated by fleeting trends, “Hands Free Down Hill” stands as a testament to the enduring power of thoughtful songwriting and masterful musicianship. Tiegler’s return is not only a welcome one but a resounding success, showcasing a Chicago artist at the peak of his creative prowess. This record is a true gem, deserving of the accolades it’s bound to receive.