Matt Lorenz, the founder and sole member of the band The Suitcase Junket set out to make a “doom-folk” album. In fact, that’s the exact term he used in explaining the vision of The End is New to his producer and longtime friend, Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin.
“That’s what I’d started calling my music when people asked,” Lorenz said. “He was game. Neither of us knew quite what that meant at the time, but I think we found out with The End is New. There’s a heavy mix of hope and desperation in the sound and lyrically I was trying to be a mirror to society in using truth, myth, confessions and stories.”
And somehow, without a stated definition going into it, the moniker certainly fits. On his latest, across nearly a dozen tracks, Lorenz captures just about every conceivable emotion; The helplessness of “Black Holes and Overdose,” the loneliness of “Last Man on the Moon,” the uncertainty in the brilliant Blues/funk drive of “Can’t Look Away” and the promise of real love in the horn-heavy “When the Battle is Won.”
Lorenz has mostly gone it alone in the past, playing just about all of the instruments on previous efforts, but The End is New feels like an entire new level of accomplishment for The Suitcase Junket. To be fair, J Mascis played a memorable guitar part in “Light a Candle” and Berlin did his part adding horns here and there with this outing. The sound is more expansive than anything Lorenz has done before and crosses over a slew of different emotions and genres. Folk and Americana are certainly at the core of all of these songs. But he also brings in Blues, Soul, Funk and Rock for an impressive sound that gets better with each replay.
Musically he’s at his most ambitious and lyrically he’s just as creative. The fact he can write a song about opioid addiction “Black Hole and Overdose” and have the humor to write song like “Jesus! King of the Dinosaurs” shows he is much more than just another writer of Sad Bastard music.
The End is New – admittedly takes a few listens to really appreciate all the work that went into it – but is Lorenz’s best album to date. It’s also likely to be the one that all of his future records have to live up to.