The New Amsterdams – Para Toda Vida

The New Amsterdams
Para Toda Vida

In case you didn’t already know, The New Amsterdams is Matt Pryor, whom you may recognize from his other gig as frontman of The Get Up Kids. When The New Amsterdams debuted in 2000 with Never You Mind, Pryor was joined by Jake Cardwell, Robert Pope, and Alex Brahl, but he ventured out entirely on his own this time around, going so far as to co-produce the effort with the aid of Alex Brahl. This is an outlet for Pryor’s softer side, for the gentler moments that wouldn’t quite work on a Get Up Kids album.
These are simple songs, consisting of little more than Pryor’s voice and his acoustic guitar, but they are warm songs that are obviously coming straight from the heart. “Stay on the Phone” is a perfect example of this, as it pulls at your heart with the story of life on the road away from a loved one, managing a relationship via long distance phone calls. “Why am I Here? Why aren’t I home? As the line builds for the phone,” he pleads. But these are not overtly sappy acoustic love songs, and this is not another version of Dashboard Confessional, as Pryor is much more raw and rough around the edges, but in a good way.
The acoustic guitar and vocals are occasionally flushed out by elements such as strings, piano, harmonica, and so on, as is the case with the excellent opener, “My Old Man Had a Pistol.” “Four More Years” is another standout track, taking somewhat of a hillbilly route by adding banjo and a slightly twangy guitar, while others take a more folky route, such as “Picture in the Paper” and “Adeline, Out of Tune.” Songs like “Son of a Prophet” and “Losing You” come off as melancholy lullabies and show Pryor at his gentlest and most modest, writing songs that will come awfully damn close to bringing a tear to your eye. And as he did on Never You Mind, Pryor tosses a couple of covers into the mix on Para Toda Vida. Last time it was Boilermaker and The Afghan Whigs, this time it is Tijuana Crime Scene’s “Forever Leaving” and Kill Creek’s “All Ears.”
In the end, what we have here is a simple, acoustic pop album, with hints of Matt Pryor’s more rootsy influences. Don’t expect anything like The Get Up Kids, as this is a showcase for Pryor’s fine songwriting abilities and is very stripped down, but that can sometimes be a good thing, as is the case with Para Toda Vida.