Matt Jennings' latest album H.O.P.E. was released in the summer of 2014. With sparse instrumentation consisting of nylon-string guitar, ukulele, bass, and percussion (all played by Jennings), the sound could be described as flamenco reggae. The songwriting on H.O.P.E. is concise and honest, coming from a place of sincerity and hope.
Jennings grew up in Pittsburgh mimicking hard rock guitarists and honing his songwriting skills from an early age. After moving to Minneapolis for college, he studied abroad in Mexico and later taught English in China. In Mexico, he was entranced by the sound of mariachi trumpeters and violinists practicing on the streets. And he learned the basic techniques of mariachi guitar firsthand from a man named Nacho. In China, he played in a live karaoke band and a Chinese hard rock band, while spending countless hours watching the South China Sea out his apartment window with a $20 Kapok acoustic guitar in his hands. After soaking in how these different cultures use rhythm and melody, he transformed his hard rock and folk roots into an international yet highly personal style of music that could be described as flamenco reggae.
Since returning from abroad Jennings has self-released three albums and one EP. He has toured the continent extensively, sharing the stage with acts such as Donavon Frankenreiter, Nick Hexum (of 311), Anuhea, Paul Cannon Band, Dengue Fever, Bombino, Zee Avi, Terraplane Sun, Seun Kuti & Egypt '80, Ozomatli, Orgone, Locos por Juana, and Los Amigos Invisibles. His self-titled EP was released in 2011. It is produced by Adam Topol (Culver City Dub Collective, The Living Room, Jack Johnson) and features members of Ozomatli, CAVA, and Dengue Fever.