Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Old Dog, New Tricks For Seasoned Country Artist Matt Koziol

From listening to Matt Koziol’s new album, it sure seems like he’s been through a lot, including a whole bunch of heartache and some serious growing pains. We know this because most of the songs, but not all of them, are carved directly from his own life experiences.

Moonshine & Rescue Dogs

One exception is “You Better Run, Son,” a bluesy rocker that tells the tale of two generations of illegal moonshiners trying to speed away from the fast reach of the law. Another one that’s not exactly autobiographical but is really personal is the album’s title track, “Last of the Old Dogs.” The inspiration for that one was a calf-high Lhasa Apso that until recently was a living reminder of Koziol’s early life in northern New Jersey. Their family had a succession of rescue dogs because his mom volunteered at a shelter, and the diminutive Grace will always occupy a big place in Koziol’s battered but still rhythmic heart.

Matt Koziol
Above Left Photo By Kevin Fagan / Above Right Photo By Kaiser Cunningham

“A lot of people might think I would have big burly dogs, but we always had these tiny barkers like Lhasas and Shih Tzus,” says the Nashville-based singer, songwriter and guitarist. “She was a fluffy little white dog that was very loving, and she was the last in this long line of dogs that started in my childhood.”

Behind “Last Of The Old Dogs”

So that made Grace a special link in an important chain, and in some ways Koziol can be described in the same manner. A second meaning to the phrase that became the album title relates to how he and his friend and producer, Matthew Odmark of the band Jars of Clay, went about recording it.

“It was very traditional and old-school, in a way,” says Koziol, “just a small group of musicians setting up in a room and playing together live.”

Matt Koziol
Kaiser Cunningham Photo

That may not sound unusual, but many modern recordings are more painstakingly pieced together one musical element at a time, often with musicians overdubbing their parts at different times or even from other locations. By contrast, the production of “Last of the Old Dogs” is certainly professional sounding but has a refreshing realness to it.

“A lot of artists want something that’s new and clean and shiny-sounding,” he says, “but I was looking for something that was more natural.”

Defining Matt Koziol’s Music

Lyrically and musically, the album conveys a sense of wisdom that comes from Koziol’s years of experience making music. Judging from his assured delivery on both vocals and guitar, it seems this 36-year-old may have lived some dog years himself on his way to becoming a well-seasoned but still up-and-coming recording artist.

Koziol’s music isn’t what you would pinpoint as classic or traditional country, but falls into a somewhat broader category. The sputtering “Which Way to Heaven” kicks off the album, revealing right away that swaggering southern rock is also in his wheelhouse. His voice is much grittier, but Koziol also draws stylistically from acoustic singer-songwriters such as James Taylor. He also speaks of a strong appreciation for the seemingly immortal Willie Nelson. Koziol even closes out this new release with a fresh take on “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” a chestnut dating to the 1940s that ol’ Willie revived in 1975.

Matt Koziol
Kaiser Cunningham Photo

On the steel-driven “I Was,” Koziol literally puts his own maturity into words with a narrative that indicates that he’s found redemption and contentment. “Who I was ain’t who I am,” he sums up, renewing his life with “a little more amen, a lot less goddamn.”

A lingering feeling after absorbing “Last of the Old Dogs” is that Koziol has really been through it, maybe again and again, in terms of broken romances and is crawling carefully from the emotional wreckage. He’s on the “Better Side on Lonely,” as one standout song puts it, cautiously moving forward with his head held high.

“Last Of The Old Dogs” Resonates

While all of the songs leave a deep impression, it’s the one about the dog that’s touching people in ways that are surprising its author.

“I didn’t expect it to have the life it’s having,” Koziol admits. “It’s definitely resonating with way more people than I thought it would. I was playing a show in London recently and there was a girl in the crowd holding up a picture of a dog she’d had that had just passed. And I’ve had so many people come to me and tell me how much that song means to them.”

Editor’s Note: To unwind from making music on the road and in the studio, Matt loves to indulge in fly fishing and archery and is known to love savoring a taste of fine whiskey. Watch for a full-length feature on him in an upcoming fall issue to learn more about his life in and out of music. For tour dates and news and to stream some of the songs from Last of the Old Dogs, please visit mattkoziol.com.

Matt Koziol
Kaiser Cunningham Photo

In the meantime, get your Matt Koziol “Last of the Old Dogs” listen on over here>>>


And if you want to sing along, here are the lyrics to keep you in check >>>>

“Last of the Old Dogs” Lyrics

You hop along to the front door when I get back home

Just not as fast as you used to

You got a little more white in your beard

A little more wrinkle in your ear

But it’s still good for the soul to be here with you

We lost Cody back in 06

And Muggsy in the 7th grade

And I’ve known you since I was just kid

But the two of us starting to show our age

         So c’mon sit with me a little while

         I’ll put another log on the fire

         Cause’ one these days we won’t get to

         So how bout tonight it’s just me and you

         What’my gonna do when you’re gone

         You’re the last of the old dogs

You saw all my ex-girlfriends come and go

Licked my face on graduation day

Then you howled while I pulled out of the driveway

         So c’mon sit with me a little while

         I’ll put another log on the fire

         Cause’ one these days we won’t get to

         So how bout tonight it’s just me and you

         What’my gonna do when you’re gone

         You’re the last of the old dogs

Thanks for keeping Mom and Dad company all these years

But It ain’t gonna feel like home to me when you ain’t here

         C’mon sit with me a little while

         I’ll put another log on the fire

         Cause’ one these days we won’t get to

         So how bout tonight it’s just me and you

         What my gonna do when you’re gone

         You’re the last of the old dogs

Looks at us still hanging on

We’re the last of the old dogs

Hook & Barrel Musical Notes
Did you enjoy this story? SUBSCRIBE today to get more like this!

Trending articles

Related articles

Shopping Cart

You’ll hear from us one time per week!

The Latest Content
Hook & Barrel INSIDER
Sneak Previews of  Upcoming Issues
Exclusive Discounts & Special Offers