In his new release, Desert Tortoise, California songwriter, Matt Zeltzer, paints a desolate, yet love-torn America, just as much influenced by Cormac McCarthy and John Steinbeck as by Neil Young. Produced by Joe Baugh (Rey Fresco, Delaney Gibson, Marquee), Zeltzer enlisted the help of local heavyweights Sam Bolle (Dick Dale, Todd Hannigan), Bill Flores (Jeff Bridges), and Chris Stites to bring Desert Tortoise to life.
Desert Tortoise functions as a travelogue, segueing from the dust torn ghost towns of the central valley, to Zorba-esque fantasies (Grecian Isle), in what local photographer David Pu’u calls “a great example of Nashville coming to Ventura.”
Zeltzer’s songwriting shows a maturity that belies his 25 years. Since his 2008 release “Scrapwood Balladry,” Zeltzer has toured the west coast as a solo act, showcasing a sound developed in part by trips to Nashville, Memphis and the Mississippi Delta and five years spent living in the Pacific Northwest.
Mediating a soul torn between fatalism and romance, he weaves folk, blues, and soul idioms, acknowledging his predecessors, while staring blindly into the future of American music. Zeltzer rarely finds room for the ornate in his writing, nor in his music, known for its simple, organic production, preferring to leave the cracks and inequalities exposed. Led by his torn, soulful voice, it is the intense energy, vibrancy, and unusual honesty that transform Zeltzer's music into profound and compelling art.