Costa’s good times just beginning with most recent release

[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”center”]Pervasive optimism throughout self-titled album impossible to ignore
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BY Scott Thompson ’16
Arts and Entertainment Editor

One decade ago, singer-songwriter Matt Costa was recording demos at home when No Doubt’s Tom Dumont received one. Upon hearing it, Dumont immediately contacted Costa, offering to help record more demos for him and distribute them. This led to two EPs, which were later combined to make Costa’s debut album, Songs We Sing, after he signed onto Jack Johnson’s label Brushfire Records. This was followed by Unfamiliar Faces, the record responsible for most of Costa’s fame, with its single, “Mr. Pitiful,” surfacing in movies such as I Love You, Man and commercials.
In 2010, Costa released his first solo project, Mobile Chateau, to reasonably positive reviews, but took his biggest stride forward with his recent release, the self-titled Matt Costa.

Throughout the album, Costa finds himself venturing into a new musical direction, incorporating various instruments into a new sound that maintains his traditional optimism, while maturing to give it a validation that allows it to become a genuine experience.

This change in sound is foreshadowed by the first track’s orchestral intro. “Loving You” begins with a group of strings melodically soothing the listener before the real song begins, with an upbeat rhythm guitar and drum set leading into Costa’s voice, which seems to epitomize cheer, seen in his joyous falsetto, which makes sporadic appearances throughout the song.

This is followed by the cheery “Early November,” which creates a sort of relaxed atmosphere, fitting for the song’s first lyrics, “Early November/ Took a drive to the sea/ Just to hear the waves crash/ In the night, on the beach.” The phrase, “It was wonderful,” surfaces repeatedly throughout the song, constantly reminding the listener of Costa’s optimistic outlook, regardless of his situation.

One of the only drops in the high-energy sound that pervades the album can be found on the track, “Eyes For You,” which he uses to assure the object of his affection that she’s the only one for him. Unfortunately, the haunting mood of the song makes his declaration appear hopeless, with the acoustic guitar and organs in the background seemingly providing his only company, reaffirmed by his singing, “Now there’s a hole and it’s inside my heart/ And there, we’ll never part,” before just singing “Eyes for you/ Just for you” repeatedly in a deep, baritone voice.

While this last track dampens the joyousness of the album, it is picked right back up with the song, “Good Times.” Despite singing about how his money is running out and his “good times are coming to an end,” he presents both almost as if they were positive occurrences. While this is a pretty depressing topic, Costa can’t turn off his positive outlook, revealed by the high energy of the song.

Potentially the biggest accomplishment of the album is “Shotgun,” a song reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra, featuring a pounding guitar, background vocals sung in falsetto, and a pump organ blending together to embody the optimistic tone of the rest of the album. Costa’s voice lends the perfect blend of youth and cheer to make this the most infectious song of the album, assisted by a backing string section throwing the song forward and a Brian-May-sounding solo guitar.

Matt Costa’s self-titled album is by far his most ambitious work to date. While signed to Jack Johnson’s label, this is his first attempt to distance himself and create his own, unique identity as an artist. While staying honest to his influences, he establishes himself as a worthwhile, original musician to be taken seriously. Overall, Matt Costa is by far the best album in his catalogue and, arguably, the best album of the year.

[three_fourth]Matt Costa’s self-titled album is by far his most ambitious work to date. While signed to Jack Johnson’s label, this is his first attempt to distance himself and create his own, unique identity as an artist. While staying honest to his influences, he establishes himself as a worthwhile, original musician to be taken seriously. Overall, Matt Costa is by far the best album in his catalogue and, arguably, the best album of the year.[/three_fourth]
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Review Rating:
B+
Matt Costa is Costa’s best album in his repertoire thus far.

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Questions? Email Scott at sthomps2@fandm.edu.

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