Matt Norman laments the California wildfires on “Paradise”, from his new album

In the past, Matt Norman has lent his whimsical improv-pop chops to projects like Lily and Horn Horse, the duo he formed with fellow Brooklyn artist Lily Konigsberg. On April 1, Norman’s new solo album Thoughtless will be released independently. The first single is a track called “Paradise”, which sounds like his own cartoonish version of old-fangled 70s pop balladry. The levity and dopey nature of his signature horn playing is underpinned by a wry, head shaking sadness, brandishing a voice that channels the calm wistful tone of Arthur Russell or James Taylor.

“I periodically fantasize about returning to California despite having no plan and feeling nervous along with everyone else about the wildfires there,” Norman reflects on the song. “The closest I have come to moving is browsing the internet for unusual listings in remote areas of the state, which consistently surpass prices in New York City for comparable units. I was curious if the camp fire that destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018 changed any of that, and sure enough, burnt foundations were on sale.”

Thoughtless is a sprawling bricolage of vignette-like tracks that transmute familiar emotions into unfamiliar zones. In Norman’s universe, the grim lives in the glow, the euphoria uproots from despair. The album asserts his unique gift for creating songs that feel almost sentient: disbelieving of their own conventional pop structures and intent on breaking free with abandon.

Thoughtless tracklist:

  1. The File
  2. Hotdog Town
  3. Pizza
  4. Paradise
  5. Chimney
  6. Sandman
  7. Good Morning
  8. Hamdogs
  9. Clown’s Victory
  10. Cat Oil
  11. Rats
  12. Magic man
  13. Old American Place
  14. Blackberries are Poison for Cats
  15. Bus
  16. Wood
  17. Food Makers
  18. Bumblina
  19. Sunshine
  20. Sprigoon
  21. Water Man
  22. Wish
  23. Bad Man

Follow Matt Norman on Bandcamp, and preorder Thoughtless here.