Previously known as Southeast Engine's longtime keyboardist, West Virginia native William Matheny made a power move last year with the release of his debut solo album Strange Constellations. No longer serving another artist's vision, Matheny is stepping more and more into the limelight as a viable Americana songwriter and frontman by the moment. He is gearing up to continue this upwards momentum in the roots rock world with the release of a follow-up EP, Moon Over Kenova, on Misra come 27 April — a project that the artist calls "an appendix of sorts for Strange Constellations".
Yet, these are no ordinary B-sides. The work presented on Moon Over Kenova stands on their own two feet just as much as they are a practical extension of the music and themes presented on Matheny's previous full-length release. That couldn't be any more evident than in the sweeping nocturnal sway of the EP's title track. "Moon Over Kenova" sets the tune for the forthcoming EP in an encompassing fashion. It incorporates lunar and religious imagery to propagate the idea that, no matter where you are in the world, there will always be a part of you left behind where you've already been.
Matheny took part in a Q&A with PopMatters to talk about "Moon Over Kenova".
What is "Moon Over Kenova" about?
I'm always a bit hesitant to say what my songs are about. Not because I'm a particularly cagey individual, but mostly because I believe that what my songs mean to me is a bit irrelevant. I'm largely concerned with what they might mean to other people and I'd hate to change anyone's personal interpretation.
I've spent most of my adult life on tour. I truly love what I do, I've decided my own path and on a fundamental level, the luxury of being a touring musician bespeaks certain amount of privilege. Definitely nothing to complain about. That said, the long drives can occasionally blend together and it can feel as if I've been exiled from my home and damned to a life of endless wandering. Sort of like The Flying Dutchman but with a gross van coming up on the 250,000 mile mark. In those moments, I start to think a little about the things that I've forgotten and a lot about the things that have forgotten me. I suppose it's about wanting to go back but knowing that you can't, and knowing that no matter how far away you may be physically, a small part of you will always be out in Kenova or Mannington.
But that's just me; it can be about anything you want.
Who or what were some influences when it came to writing "Moon Over Kenova"?
Kenova is a small town a few miles west of Huntington, West Virginia, which is one of the handful of cities that I consider my musical home. We recorded Strange Constellations there and most of the people in my band live there. Kenova is on the Big Sandy River at the point where Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia meet. In fact, the name is a portmanteau of the former postal abbreviations of Ken., O. and Va. It's a pretty vibe-y place with an interesting history and it occupies a fairly large space in my imagination.
Any cool, funny, or interesting stories from writing and recording this one?
This song, like the other songs on Moon Over Kenova, is very tied in with Strange Constellations. This EP is an appendix of sorts to that album. The words 'strange constellations' actually appear in this song. I think I'm just trying to give myself a Houses of the Holy moment.