Matt Costa, Songs We Sing

Songs We Sing, Matt Costa’s debut album, is a self-assured work of credible guitar pop, buzzing with infectious melodies. One standout track is ‘Cold December,’ a real folk-pop gem, which races along with jangly acoustic guitars and soaring, catchy melodies. Costa subverts our expectations, pinning some truly dark lyrics on a deliriously poppy song structure. Such Trojan horsemanship is amplified by Costa’s voice, recalling the Thrills or Death Cab, he appears simultaneously joyful and painfully wounded.

What is most refreshing is Costa’s unwillingness to be influenced by his generation. The folk arpeggios and casual style of ‘Astair’ and the gorgeous vocal harmonies on ‘Sunshine’ recall a richer songwriting tradition. The simple folky beauty of ‘Wash Away’ is transformed into something much more vital and epic, with violins and cellos accompanying half whispered vocals.

Unfortunately, Costa’s influences sometimes overwhelm him. ‘Sweet Rose’ is practically a Cash song sung in a high voice. Similarly ‘Oh Dear’ would be revolutionary if Sergeant Pepper didn’t exist. These are nitpickings though; as a debut album, Songs We Sing has some brilliant, awe-inspiring songs, suggesting a great musical future.

Reviewed by James Fanning

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