Best Of 2008

BEST LOCAL CD: Have Gun, Will Travel, Casting Shadows Tall as Giants

Already a respected local musician for fronting the nationally signed indie-rock band The Chase Theory, Matt Burke launched Have Gun, Will Travel a couple years back as a solo acoustic project with well-received gigs around Tampa Bay and a self-recorded killer EP, on which he played all the instruments: acoustic guitar, banjo and harmonica. For its highly anticipated follow-up, Burke opted to go big, recruiting his former Chase Theory bandmates plus a lap steel player and a violist. They booked time at Steve Connelly’s Zen Recording Studio in Pinellas Park — the birthplace of virtually every significant local Americana release of the decade — and the results outstripped the expectations of even HGWT’s most avid supporters. Casting Shadows Tall as Giants is a folk-rock affair updated with an indie sensibility and marked by Burke’s most refined, mature songwriting to date. Unlike similar-sounding alt-country efforts, the disc largely eschews despair for songs of hope and perseverance that are carried by propulsive rhythms and sing-along choruses. Fittingly, Casting Shadows has become a top-spun favorite on WMNF this past year and has also garnered play on National Public Radio.