Steeped in emotion and pulsating with life, Matthew Birch’s Not Where I Thought I’d Be is a candid recollection of love found and lost. Divulging every wind in the road of his emotional sojourn, the singer-songwriter who sings under the moniker Our Violet Room draws in listeners with cinematic soundscapes and evocative lyrics. Birch explains that the album, from tracks one through seven, takes you on the complete journey of the relationship.
“Not Where I Thought I’d Be is the story of my relationship from the first meeting to the bitter end and how that affected the plans and future hopes I had for my life,” he says. From the sweet thoughtfulness of “Secrets,” which utilizes strings to stir emotion and a guitar breakdown in the bridge to demonstrate passion, to the vivid imagery on “Winter,” which details their love growing together, listeners are given a brief window into their relationship before it begins to crumble.
On “Loss (and I),” the cracks begin to show as both parties know the end is near but aren’t ready to break apart just yet. On “Till Death,” Birch cleverly plays on the idea of marriage while singing about moving forward from the person he thought he’d be with until death. “I had heard that nothing lasts forever. Nothing lasts forever, and now I know. And I say, now that I know better, I’ll let go,” he sings. Ironically, the most energetic track on the album, “Falling,” goes deepest into the pain which plagues Birch’s heart post-breakup.
One of the most intriguing tracks on the album, “Seems My Life,” represents a change in Birch’s emotional stance as he shifts from heartbreak to bitterness to self-realization. Grappling with defeat, Birch sings, “It seems my life doesn’t matter to the ones who said it did. So I move on from the ones who hurt me, so I move on from that hurtful past.” The first half of the track finds the character at hand spiralling, knowing he has to move forward but not knowing where to go, while the second half of the track shifts both sonically and tone-wise lyrically.
As the shift happens, Birch continues to spiral down the rabbit hole of confusion and woeful rumination until, finally, in the bridge, he finds some empowerment. “We don’t have to fake our smiles on Sunday. We don’t have to act and be our best,” he sings. Realizing he can wear his emotions on his sleeve, whether they’re pretty or not, he glorifies the realities of imperfection which are inevitable to the human condition. In this way, there is an organic resolution to this chapter of his life. Rounding out the album with religion-centred “Saved Me,” Birch closes out the record with just a few simple piano notes, bringing a dimension of quiet peace after the tumult. Intentionally executed and masterfully layered, Not Where I Thought I’d Be is a thoughtful collection of what it means to grow amidst sorrow.
A deep love of movie scores and the composers that made them, alongside an admiration and passion for folk music, is the base of the music that Birch creates under the moniker Our Violet Room. An “indie singer-songwriter with a cinematic twist,” Birch got his musical start in 2018 by playing SoFar Sound shows – first in Denver but soon all over the world. A humble story of overcoming depression, working hard, and diving headfirst into his dream, Birch only has one goal…. to make thoughtful, well-made, emotional art that inspires his listeners and causes them to feel.
His music has been compared to the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, and Coldplay for its lush atmosphere, emotional lyrics, and cinematic arrangements and has quickly launched his music career with two songs featured on FreeForm’s “Good Trouble” series and two songs featured in a Magnolia feature film. “Making movie scores has been a dream of mine, and to look at each song as a little movie score has been a great way of creating,” says Birch. Thus far in his career, Birch has released two EPs – Our Violet Room and the live EP Loss and Death in Winter – alongside a handful of singles. Mixing folk and cinematic soundscapes seem to be working for the emerging artist, as his songs have a combined 500,000 streams. “ I don’t go for cool or hip; I go for what moves me.” His debut album, Not Where I Thought I’d Be, comes out September 2, 2022.