Matthew Lowry Invites You to
Explore “Flamingo County”
By RJ Walters
In-Studio Photography by Jordan Randall
Live Show Photography at Union Hall by Sarah Brewington Baarns
Matthew Lowry’s first “album” was recorded during high school in the early 2000s with a multitrack tape recorder.
He attended Southeastern University for three years with the intent of doing music ministry for a career, but never finished his degree, instead opting to go all-in as a musician, touring full-time with rock band Terra Terra Terra.
Songwriting and instruments have always been the chosen medium for the 37-year-old’s truest form of expression. But the unexpected chapters of life—including moving often as the son of a military father, enduring his parent’s divorce and his own tumultuous relationship, meeting his now wife of six years, Sierra, building a formidable career as a golf caddie, and ultimately landing in the heavy equipment logistics industry—led him to a place where he had learned a lot about himself, but hadn’t quite found the right way to communicate those truths.
When you listen to “Flamingo County,” an album he collaborated on with long-time friends and released on September 15, you will find yourself adventuring through an often entertaining wonderland that pays homage to life in the Sunshine State, but you’ll also directly encounter some of the obstacles Lowry has endured in his search for meaning and solace.
Sierra jokes that her husband—who went to Lime Street Elementary for two years as part of his transient youth—has so much to say that he is constantly talking in his sleep. Just ask her about the “notes” section on her iPhone if you want a glimpse at the lyrics of his subconscious mind.
Lowry says he has always considered his strength as a musician to be his songwriting, but it took his wife’s convincing to truly set his mind to following through with this cathartic album.
Each year the couple has what they dub a private “State of the Union.” It is a Thanksgiving weekend meal where they discuss where they’ve been and where they’re headed. In November 2020, Matthew decided to get serious about reinvigorating his music career.
“Before I recorded the album, it was like, ‘Honey, I just, I can’t not do this’…and she’s like, ‘Either do it and go all the way or don’t—you’ve gotta make a choice for yourself. You can’t just kind of maybe play some shows or maybe record some stuff,’” he recalls. “[In early 2021] I got my whiteboard, I put it on the wall and I went, ‘You’re gonna finish writing these songs.’”
“Before I recorded the album, it was like, ‘Honey, I just, I can’t not do this’…and she’s like, ‘Either do it and go all the way or don’t—you’ve gotta make a choice for yourself. You can’t just kind of maybe play some shows or maybe record some stuff,’”
– Matthew Lowry on his wife’s encouragement to record “Flamingo County”
The end result, which he recorded at The Vanguard Room in Lakeland, is a diverse offering that makes you feel like you are sitting with Lowry having an espresso at Concord Coffee or rocking with him at a backyard low country boil, two of his favorite things.
His all-time favorite musician is Dave Grohl, the iconic founder of the Foo Fighters, but the musical inspirations that shine through on his album are reminiscent of an old school jukebox. He acknowledges the influence of bands and musicians like Jimmy Eat World, Manchester Orchestra, Elton John, Queen and Ben Folds.
On “Flamingo County” you will be introduced to his mother in the aptly titled “Mama”; you will feel the impact his grandfather had on him if you read the lyrics of “Tired”; you will get a glimpse into his relationship with his wife when you listen to the album’s lone love song, “Let You Walk Away.”
You will also learn how he wrestled and came to terms with many of his deeply held religious and social beliefs from childhood in “Deconstruction.” “Fall Away” is an honest ballad about Lowry’s decision to see a therapist to help him deal with panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.
It’s not all serious though, and he’s not afraid to take a shot at how real life sidetracked most of his friends’ musical ambitions in the song, “All My Friends Are Selling Out.”
To understand Lowry though, you have to know the rest of the story. Some of the guys he called out in the song, Grant, Rick and Micah—are actually three of the five friends he called up to record this album. Grant, a former 97 Country DJ, is the personality behind the introduction and intermissions on the album, Micah is the band’s drummer and Rick played lead guitar or bass on a number of tracks.
When Lowry was asked point blank if he “sold out” when he started a job in more “corporate America” or if he’s going to be soon eating his words as a dad—Sierra and Matthew are preparing to welcome their first child, a daughter named Sybil, into the world soon—he flashes a wide grin and offers a retort.
“I’ve sold out…but like, I’m selling out so I can shell out,” he says. “To support my music and then, hopefully the music of others eventually.”
“I’ve sold out….but like, I’m selling out so I can shell out to support my music and then, hopefully the music of others eventually.”
Speaking of friends who can appreciate his foray in the music industry more than others, Lowry shares that through the course of making the album he developed a friendship with Aaron Marsh. Marsh, who is most well-known for being the lead singer of indie rock group Copeland, built a distinguished career since his days as a student at Harrison School for the Arts.
Lowry said the two really bonded over a shared love of Premier League Soccer, and Marsh ended up offering his well trained ear to Lowry’s project, as well as his talents—he shot and directed the music video for “All My Friends Are Selling Out.”
“When the first mixes [of the album] came in, we got in the car and we rode around and listened…and had some coffee,” Lowry says. “We literally drove all around, like drove out to Mulberry and came back and just talked—had a beautiful night.”
It’s the kind of music that Lowry loves to play live, like he and his band did at the album release show at Union Hall, where they treated the audience to the entire 14-track record. It’s also the kind of music that Lowry said can get him choked up at times, like when he’s alone on his piano singing the song about his grandfather’s admirable work ethic.
Lowry and the band have played a handful of shows around Florida recently. He said in his past dreams he fantasized about touring the country like Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band, but in his current dream of being a father and continuing to see where music leads him, he loves playing in theaters and intimate venues and hopes to be able to collaborate with others as a songwriter.
“This whole album and project is embracing who I really am and my friends and the community around me,” he says. “I wanted this to be the launching point. Like, okay, this is where Matthew Lowry starts. This is who I actually am, this is what I actually believe. This is the life I want to live.”