cover art from Very Close to Strangers album

About the Album

Very Close to Strangers is my first full-length studio album. While the songs were being completed and recorded, I got the idea to try an experiment with two good friends who also happen to be among my favorite artists. What kind of work might they create to accompany these songs? Shawna and Matt agreed to try it, and over weeks and months we met to talk about the music, the album, the themes. Matt eventually came up with six terrific short stories. Shawna made many sketches for the concept of the painting. Each are distinct works of their respective artists, but echoing the themes they heard in my album as it was being completed. In May 2013 we created a special live performance, during which Shawna painted the final work, live on stage, while I sang the songs of the album in sequence, interspersed with Matt reading his stories. The painting became the cover art for the album, with sections of it becoming art for each individual track.

–Matthew Black

Matthew Black

Matthew Black (he/him) is an indie-folk singer-songwriter who lives in Lousiville, Kentucky. Very Close to Strangers is his first full-length studio album. His favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip.

Listen to the songs.

Matt Lang

Matt Lang (he/him) was born in Olean, New York, grew up in Rixford, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Read the stories.

Shawna Bowman

Shawna Bowman (they/them) is an artist, pastor and activist in Chicago. Shawna paints live at theaters, story-telling events, festivals, conferences and worship services around the country. Shawna also collaborates with not-for-profit organizations to help raise funds and awareness around issues of justice and poverty. They often use their paintings to collaborate with communities to tell their stories and mark important milestones in their journeys.

See the painting. Watch the time lapse video.

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