Album Review: Matt Costa's Self-Titled Fourth Album
On February 12th, singer-songwriter Matt Costa will release his fourth album. Having initially ventured over to Glasgow, Scotland to record an album of rootsy folk songs with Tony Doogan (Mogwai/Belle & Sebastian) at his Castle of Doom studio, Costa quickly found himself taking on a much bigger task than he had originally anticipated. What we find on this self-titled follow up to 2010′s Mobile Chateau is British folk-pop that is relevant to the current era, while gracefully touching upon genres ranging from doo-wop, 60′s and 70′s era Bob Dylan and Donovan, to whimsical orchestral arrangements. Costa brings it all together to create an easy-to-listen-to album that leaves you wanting more as the last notes of "Golden Cathedrals" dance in your head.
"Loving You" begins with a string intro, and goes right into a poppy, horn-laced tune that immediately screams British Invasion. You can definitely hear that Donovan vibe going on here; it's just a really catchy tune. "Early November" has an airy feel that brings you back to a time that many artists seem to have forgotten, namely the late 50′s/early 60′s doo-wop era. "Eyes for You" slows the album down a bit with what is as true of a love song as you can ever get, but not in an overly corny way. Costa's wife Casey provides backing vocals on this track, and her almost whispering vocals provide such depth to the song. I would put money on this song finding itself into the soundtrack of romance movies for years to come.
The lead single off the album, "Good Times" sees Costa having enough of the pretentious ways of the world, and just wanting to get back to basics in life:
"The good times are coming to an end....
Won't miss those fancy dinners
Won't even miss those fancy clothes
I won't miss that girl I love,
I'm just turning into the man I once was"
"Shotgun" is a song that I can see being a video, similar to The Beatles A Hard Day's Night, where it's sped up and the musicians (with mod haircuts) are running from fans in comedic fashion, and partaking in completely absurd behaviors and actions; though, it very well could be the clapping and the background vocals that give that effect. The heavy lyrical content on "Clipped Wings" is a drastic change from the bounciness of "Shotgun":
"Once we were young and lived dangerous,
But the rains poured down
They started to change us
We both grew so ancient....
There we were, familiar strangers
Well the rains poured down
Heaven knows why she changed her mind
Why she saved her goodbyes, over cloudy skies
And tried with clipped wings to fly...."
Costa has a true penchant with words that has to be appreciated. These are beautifully somber lyrics, set to music that is about as melancholy as it gets, all while remaining so serene. The strings are tastefully done in this song, and have such an ethereal feel to them, you can't help but press replay for another listen. I love the guitar in "Laura Lee" from 1:10 to 1:40 in the song. There is some sweet, subtle picking that it almost sounds like a harp with the guitars playing off one another so eloquently.
"Silver Sea" is about as fitting a title for a song as you can get; this track truly gives you that feeling of sailing the high seas. You can imagine yourself in an old pub with some sailors, drinking a pint, wenches dancing on the tables, and everyone singing along to this old sea shanty:
"Where are the birds?
Where are the fish?
What land have I come to?
Where is my boat?
And where is my love?
What has fate brought us to?"
This is a great song to put on at your local Irish pub, and drink a pint to. And with the perfectly timed tambour and percussion, this gets my vote as the sleeper of the album. "Ophelia" brings out Costa's inner Bob Dylan. Between his voice, the lyrical content of the song, and the harmonica, it's like listening to Dylan circa 1963/64. It's reminiscent of Dylan's "Mama, You Been On My Mind" though closer to the version that George Harrison did, as it is just a bit more upbeat. If I could describe "Golden Cathedrals" in one word? Inspirational.
"We all know that feeling
When phantoms and shadows make reality dreary
But don't let them conquer you
Don't let them shatter you..
Some say when you disappear there's a golden cathedral there
And all the choir children sing your name"
With this final cut on the album, you are left walking, rather floating, on puffy, white, heavenly clouds that Costa has created with his uncanny songwriting abilities. As a whole, this self-titled album is solid from front to back and shows that four albums in, Costa is just finding his groove. If you like singer-songwriters, and well-crafted songs songs with driving themes, then you must give this album a listen. Chances are you will keep it in your rotation for quite awhile.
You can purchase the album on February 12th, via Matt Costa's website
Listen to an Exclusive stream of "Golden Cathedrals":
Keep an eye out for local shows, as Costa is about to embark on a lengthy Spring tour, that will see him come to NYC's Bowery Ballroom on April 15th.
MATT COSTA SPRING TOUR DATES
March 14 – Club Congress – Tucson, AZ
March 15 – Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ
March 16 – Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA
March 19 – Casbah – San Diego, CA
March 21 – The Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA
March 22 – Slo Brewing Co. – San Luis Obispo, CA
March 23 – Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
March 24 – Harlow’s – Sacramento, CA
March 26 – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR
March 27 – The Crocodile – Seattle, WA
March 28 – Electric Owl – Vancouver, BC
March 29 – Sugar Space Nightclub – Victoria, BC
March 30 – Wild Buffalo – Bellingham, WA
April 1 – Kilby Court – Salt Lake City, UT
April 2 – Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO
April 4 – Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN
April 5 – High Noon Saloon – Madison, WI
April 6 – Schubas – Chicago, IL
April 7 – Blind Pig – Ann Arbor, MI
April 9 – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH
April 11 – The Mod Club Theater – Toronto, ONT
April 12 – Le Petit Campus – Montreal, QC
April 13 – Inn On The Blues – York Beach, ME
April 14 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
April 15 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
April 17 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA
April 19 – U Street – Washington, DC
April 20 – Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
April 21 – Vinyl – Atlanta, GA
April 22 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
April 24 – Firebird – St. Louis, MO
April 25 – Bottleneck – Lawrence, KS
April 26 – Cain’s Ballroom – Tulsa, OK
April 27 – House Of Blues Cambridge – Dallas, TX
April 28 – Stubb’s BBQ – Austin, TX
April 29 – House Of Blues – Houston, TX
Check out a lyric video to the single "Good Times":
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