Occasionally we come across people who were born in the wrong era. In Matt Costa’s case, he was off by a few decades. His past works already emit a very psychedelic aura that is just asking to be played on vinyl from the 70s. His self-titled fourth album still exudes a vintage vibe, but with a tone that is more commemorative towards a folksier styling.
Although the album carries a disheartened theme (“Good times are coming / To an end” from the song “Good Times”) Costa revels in the sorrow and makes it into something extremely impressive. His decision to focus on soft rock highlights the entrancing melodies that essentially built his musical career. He starts with the lyrical composition of each song, and sculpts the musical accompaniment around the words; this writing process really expands on the meaning behind each piece.
“Good Times” and “Clipped Wings” demonstrate Costa’s abilities with transformative songwriting that is accentuated by the music. In the latter, the lyrics, “Once we were young and lived dangerous / But the rains poured down / They started to change us / We both grew so ancient,” are truly felt in the ballad of entrancing string instruments. The significance and strength behind the lyrics are prevalent on paper; however, his arrangement of dulcet violins and Bob Dylan-esque vocals bring the song’s significance to life.
The record varies in style by combining aspects from the Simon and Garfunkel and Electric Light Orchestra era, which connect the wavering refrains into infectious numbers. According to Costa himself, his natural ability as a musician allows “the songs to start morphing and twisting […which] begins to open up [his] sense of what’s possible with the melody.” His open-mindedness creates a melting pot of various musical genres with the persistent percussion and plucky guitar. “Silver Sea” is an exemplary track that demonstrates a heavy Bollywood influence with the repetitive guitar strums and tremulous inflection in the vocals.
Matt Costa brings a beautiful sadness to his album, and it delivers a delightful medium between happiness and sorrow. The melancholy seems to come from a life of experience, in light of his gradual growth of success over the course of his career. This body of work deserves to be self-titled, considering the development in songwriting and musicianship that has produced a highly eccentric tonality. His natural talents offer a refreshing change from the current popular music market.
Rating: 4 stars