From the August 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY KENNY BERKOWITZ
Junkyard virtuoso’s DIY approach is heartfelt and intense
Suitcase Junket was born the day Matt Lorenz reached inside a dumpster and pulled out an old, moldy acoustic guitar. He took it home, washed it with vinegar, and found one tuning that actually worked: open C, which brought out the rumble in the guitar’s low strings and the rattle in its highs. In a stroke of genius, he paired it with his new-found trick, overtone singing, and after years of playing with other people—and collecting junk—Lorenz went solo.
In an age of multi-tracking, he’s an old-school one-man band, and no matter how difficult, he’s doing each part really well. With his feet, he plays a discarded film reel (cymbal), a box of silverware (tambourine), a circular-saw blade (crash), a cooking pot (snare), a galvanized heating duct (tom), and an extra-large suitcase (bass drum) that also serves as his throne. With his hands, he plays a keyboard and that old acoustic guitar, outfitted with a pickup and overdriven to make it roar. He sings in a Dylanesque tenor that sounds heartbroken one minute and a million miles away the next, and he writes songs that’ll make you bleed.
He’s a junkyard virtuoso, and on this fourth album, he’s writing, singing, and playing better than ever before, veering between fingerpicking country, slide blues, and industrial-strength noise. There’s a blowtorch intensity to all these tracks, and whether he’s tearing out his heart (“Why So Brief”), throat-singing a solo (“The Next Act”), rocking hard (“Jackie”), moaning the blues (“Busted Gut”), or declaring his love (“Red Flannel Rose”), I just can’t get enough of it.
How’s your appetite for the unusual? Below is live fan-video performance of The Suitcase Junket playing “Evangeline” from the new album: