Matt Costa takes listeners on a journey from his native Southern California to Glasgow, Scotland and through decades of musical tradition on his latest album, “Matt Costa.”
The song "Good Times," is the most fun track I've heard this year and it comes courtesy of Costa, who released his fourth full length album Feb. 12 on Brushfire Records. Incorporating New Orleans horns, a simple rhythm and a super-magnetic hook that sticks with a twisted ending, "Good times are coming/ To an end."
"Matt Costa," is full of warm golden vibes that are positively upbeat and are exploding with sound without being showy. His songs sound authentic while still being audibly evident they have been painstakingly crafted over evolutions of the creative process. It's obvious from the violin introduction that blossoms into the first track, "Loving You."
Costa sounds like a modern American combination of John Lennon and Nick Drake with his songwriting sensibility and his unapologetic approach to crafting a beautiful melody.
“The songs started morphing and twisting and taking on a more mystic sound,” Costa said on his website. “And at the same time I began opening up my sense of what’s possible with melody.”
Tracks like "Clipped Wings, and "Early November," are masterpieces in their arrangement of strings and horns that compliment Costa's impressive lyrics.
"Once we were young and lived dangerous
But the rains poured down
They started to change us
We both grew so ancient”
I love the way Costa builds songs that continue to reach further and further with each verse. He reaches some pretty high notes, both as a singer and a songwriter on the bubblegum sweet "Shotgun." It's a song that will definitely get people moving when Costa performs April 16 at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia.
“Once I got really into writing I knew I was going to add strings to the songs, so I listened to a lot of symphonies and a lot of Mozart, then played around with figuring that all out on guitar,” said Costa on his website. “It was a huge help in terms of giving me the inspiration to work with more interesting chords and these bigger, grander themes.”
Costa recorded the album in Glasgow, which accounts for the European-sounding undercurrent that runs throughout the album and is boldly Celtic on "Silver Sea." There is also an audible wink to 70s British pop on the final track, "Wilting."
Of all the instruments Costa plays on this album (guitar, piano, organ), one of my favorites has to be the harmonica work on "Ophelia," which sounds inspired by Bruce Springsteen's acoustic "Nebraska," album. In a nice touch of production, "Silver Sea," blends into "Ophelia," despite the two sounding incredibly different from one another. It seems Costa can do it all including mastering the traditional lovesick singer-songwriter on "Eyes for You" and acoustic fingerpicking on "Laura Lee."
"Walls Like Windows," is a sun soaked 70s folk song that has a fun and uptempo bongo drum beat, a playful organ melody and impressive vocals.
Each track on this album is distinct and impressive. The one-time skateboarder who has toured with Jack Johnson has created an excellent musical experience on this album. It has been more than two years since Costa released an album but I'm sure existing fans would say it’s well worth the wait. As a new fan, I'm excited for the next.
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Read the High Note with Shaun Smith every Saturday on shorenewstoday.com.
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