By Ian Bremner

There are few places in the world more beautiful than the Pacific Northwest in the summers. Of course, the main reason for all the green trees and nature is due to the mass amounts of rain that fall in the remaining 9 months of the year. Due to this vicious weather cycle and emotional spectrum, the Northwest is home to a variety of fantastic songwriters. There’s only so much you can do indoors all year. Painting and playing basketball helps, but it also provides a conducive environment for writing songs.

Portland, Oregon is known for many musical identities including shoegaze, punk, metal and folk music. The city is also home to Matt Dorrien, who just released his debut record under his own name on Mama Bird Recording Co. titled, Songs In The Key of Grey. Moving from San Francisco, the transition to Portland was not as easy as hoped for. He amicably split from his girlfriend shortly after arriving to the city. Spending more time on a keyboard, in a new city, with a recent emotion twist is not how you would draw it up necessarily, but in a way also lends itself to a new creative outlook.

The record is built on predominantly of slow, sad piano ballads. Being compared to Leon Russell and Randy Newman, the tunes are confessional, relatable, and heartfelt with a dash of sharp wit. Songs In the Key of Grey is a Northwest version of New Orleans ragtime. Northwest Ragtime, if you will. Matt Dorrien’s soft voice leads the way over jaunty piano leads and slow, raspy horns in the background. The lead track, Baby, I’m So Lost sounds equally at home in a dark bar staring at a glass of whiskey or on a walk in the woods.

Songs In The Key of Grey is not a total sad-sack record, nor a complete break-up album by any means either. Each song is introspective enough to guide you through any city in any weather conditions in nearly any emotional state. Like  the greenery in the Northwest, it takes a lot of patience to get there, but when the clouds finally part, it’s all worth it.

Baby, I’m So Lost

Listen to Songs In The Key of Grey via spotify