For Matthew Szlachetka, it’s always been about family—something he’s seriously begun to take stock in at the not-so-tender age of 42. “Family for me is really, really important—tracing it all back to where I came from and how it made me who I am now,” says the Nashville-based singer/songwriter. “It’s all about those ties.”
Szlachetka grew up the oldest of two brothers in western Massachusetts, where he was privy to supportive parents and the warm embrace of an extended family with blue-collar Polish roots. His latest singles bear personal photographs from various stages of his young life. For “Right There All Along (On And On),” it’s a snapshot of a two-year-old Matthew strumming a tiny acoustic guitar on the living-room couch with his dad and a cousin. Decades later, he’d be headed to Southern California to kick off a career that’s had its share of twists and turns before settling into a more sustainable folk-rock troubadour groove that currently has him on the road up to 200 days a year.
“Right There All Along (On And On)” is one of 11 tracks on Szlachetka’s self-released third album, Young Heart, Old Soul, produced by Grammy-winning Train co-founder Scott Underwood. “It was the last song written for the album,” says Szlachetka. “I brought to Scott, and he was like, ‘Dude, we’ve got to record that.’ Initially, it had more of a Stephen Stills kind of verse—almost like ‘Manassas.’ But the chorus was very much the same as it is now. When we were working out the middle part in the studio, the verse part wasn’t working. Then I tried a sort of Joe Walshy intro thing, and that put it all together.”
Thematically, the song is about relationships—in particular, Szlachetka’s relationship with his wife, Sarah Aili, a singer/songwriter and visual artist who’s also found success in the theater industry. “The two months prior to recording this record, we’d broken up for a couple of months,” he says. “It was stuff we both had to work on. When we got back together, I knew I was going to marry her.”
The couple wed during the pandemic. “We really threaded the needle, man,” he says. “A lot of extended family members weren’t able to make it, but we had our Nashville family there.”
We’re proud to premiere “Right There All Along (On And On)” today at MAGNET.