Matt Haeck comes by his contradictions honestly. Scrappy with a genuine, lyrical voice, he sings truths hard-earned from struggles most men twice his age haven’t seen. Born in Barbados, West Indies to missionary parents, he was introduced to music through hymns. While working on a Master Of Divinity to become a pastor, he fell out of love with theology and decided to pursue music instead.
He began falling into addiction for the next four years with phases of pills, cocaine and alcohol. He entered treatment, only to relapse 2 months later into the most hellish year of his life. He moved to Indianapolis to enter a yoga recovery program, and it was then that he began crafting the songs of Late Bloomer, only to move back to Nashville after one month of sobriety, having been cast in Studio Tenn’s critically-acclaimed stage production “The Hank Legacy” and subsequently, “The Cash Legacy.”
The songs of Late Bloomer evoke raw truth through personal confessions and imaginative characters. With a silky Southern drawl, he sings about depression, divorce, battling demons and vices.
On “Minnie Pearl”, Haeck found inspiration from Hank Williams Sr.’s (his greatest influence) notorious response to Pearl singing “I Saw The Light” during his drunken depression where he declared “There ain’t no light.” It’s a parallel to Haeck’s own darkness with addiction.
“Cotton Dress” (originally crafted to be a capella) showcases his knack for storytelling with the tale of a forbidden love unbound by the death of the female character’s father. Following the funeral, the couple find freedom in wedlock.
Whether he’s wrestling with depression from being alone (“Lovin’ Off My Mind”) or flirting with seduction (“Lucky Cigarette”), he’s a natural at translating introspection into universal feelings. Songs like “Tennessee” find him struggling with the power of geography to ripen or kill intimacy while “Couldn’t Say Yes (Till I Learned To Say No)” shows him letting go of control to heal himself for the life and love he desires.
Speaking of the track “Whiskey & Fast Women”, he says, “When I wrote that I just wanted to write a fuck it all barn burner song. The character Mary in the song stands for women and marijuana.”
On “Pissing Contest” he writes about the hypocrisy of religion from his personal experience in Christian circles of friends who dabbled in drugs. “Praise him well or you’ll go to Hell,” he sings, “Now help me cut a few more lines.” He balances the song with an appearance of his recovered identity through a vague reference to The Serenity Prayer.
“Worst Enemy / Ramblin’ Man” features a two part mashup with Hank Williams Sr.’s “Ramblin’ Man” and an original penned song. “It’s about getting over the presence of a woman in my mind,” he says, “Or trying to and reconciling with the fact that I’m my own worst enemy. I wrote out my desire to beat my demons and to be able to love again. I can’t play that song without the Hank addition,” he says.
“‘Belt’ is the only song I didn’t write,” Haeck says. “A friend of mine from Bible college moved to Nashville and played that song for me in my backyard. I knew then and there I was going to cut it. I connected and identified with it so much that it felt almost as if I had written it,” he says. “The title is the only thing he contributed and came from a common story he and writer Ben Douglas share. Originally, the first line was, “I lost my shirt to a stripper” he says chuckling. “Well, I lost my belt to a stripper.”
Through personal failures and a new life after deciding to change, Haeck has found himself through a series of dark turns while searching for the light on his debut album.
Late Bloomer was produced by David Mayfield and features appearances from Critter Fuqua (Old Crow Medicine Show), Paul Defiglia (The Avett Brothers), Caitlin Rose and Elizabeth Cook.