Fort Worth country singer-songwriter Matthew McNeal is releasing a new album on April 10 called Good Grief, which he was able to make despite a series of catastrophic events.
McNeal previously released an album in 2018 called Good Luck which got him some positive attention. KUTX called it "a beautiful departure from the over-produced sound that has overwhelmed current country music" and the Dallas Observer named him an "Artist to Watch."
While his music falls mostly under the "country" banner, McNeal says he incorporates other genres.
"You can hear the songs on Good Grief in a lot of different ways — as country songs, folk songs, rock songs, soul songs — it all really depends on the listener," he says. "So that's what we aimed for: blending all of the things we love, doing it in our own way, always intentional but always free."
According to a release, the record was made only after a series of unfortunate circumstances that included his father passing away. "The most vivid memory of my entire life is from that hospital room, holding his hand and talking to him, even though he couldn't speak," McNeal says.
McNeal and Andre Black, his songwriting partner and also the band's drummer, recorded three songs that became the foundation for Good Grief.
But then came Calamity No. 2: McNeal's house caught fire when his electric stove malfunctioned and ignited while he was away, causing the loss of most of his possessions and putting the record on hold.
You'd think that would be enough but 13 days later came Calamity No. 3: A car accident in which a car crossed three lanes of traffic across the highway before smashing into McNeal's car on the highway. Somehow he walked away from the accident with minor injuries.
Calamity No. 4 involved his discovery that he'd become a victim of identity theft. Someone stole his social security number, tried to open up bank accounts, and forged a copy of his driver’s license.
In good news for this intrepid musician, things have turned around. He got married and now he has this new album.
"Since the circumstances were unchangeable, I knew I had to change my perspective. I was going to have to see these bad things as opportunities for growth," McNeal says.
You can hear a snippet for free: He has a single called "Be Yourself" which is streaming on soundcloud.
"These songs helped me get through some difficult times, and I think there’s an almost spiritual feeling when you share personal stories as songs," he says. "I believe that any song that effectively transports you into the songwriter's world shares a common thread, regardless of genre."