EDITOR’S NOTE: In December, we like to take a look back at albums we didn’t get around to reviewing earlier in the year. Thousand Dollar Dinners was released in March.
Sometimes you play to win / Sometimes you just play dead / Sometimes you wind up in the middle with everybody else.
There’s a certain sense of honesty that saturates Matt Sucich’s music. It was true when he released his debut LP, Jubilation & Jealousy, in 2011, and it’s been true ever since. The Queens-born-and-bred singer-songwriter has been pouring his heart and soul out for the better part of a decade, and on his latest effort, the self-released Thousand Dollar Dinners, Sucich finds himself at his most authentic and honest — and also at his absolute best.
Opening with the “Subterranean Homesick Blues”-esque “Saturn,” Sucich belts out over an unforgettable chorus, “In the history of headlines / Nobody cares if you get out alive / Oh, that history of headlines / They won’t even try to get the story right.” The rest of Thousand Dollar Dinners proves to be as pure and profound as those few lines.
When Sucich isn’t waxing poetic about life — on “Go Find Yourself,” he opens with the piercing lyric, “I am notorious for getting ahead of myself / I can see the future but my present is something else” — he’s showing his hand at just how clearly he can write about heartache. “I never got the chance to make you, the chance to make you mad / I’d love to see your face turn red, but I never got the chance,” he sings with a casual comfort on “Never Got the Chance.”
Kiyoshi Matsuyama recorded and engineered the LP while also producing alongside Sucich; he also performs on every single track, from lending a hand with his exceptional guitar work and drumming to playing bass and synthesizers. Matsuyama has become an irreplaceable partner for Sucich on this record, adding to the inimitable sincerity hidden in every groove.
From front to back, Thousand Dollar Dinners will no doubt be one of the greatest records you didn’t hear much about in 2019. Without a PR firm or record label pushing him, Sucich records, performs, and promotes his music in his spare time when he’s not doing whatever he can to make ends meet. The heart-wrenching truth of the record is found not only in Sucich’s lyrics, but also in the reality that more of the world isn’t aware of its existence. Sucich plays to win, and with Thousand Dollar Dinners, it’s time he’s recognized for the distinct talent and unmistakable art that encompasses his music.