February 21, 2013 by bmcconnelluwo
Matt Costa sure has come a long way from an injured semi-professional skateboarder laid up in bed scribbling down simple tunes in Southern California.
With the release of his self-titled fourth studio album on February 13 Costa has proven his skill as a singer, songwriter and arranger worthy of inclusion among the mainstream elite.
One word can be used to describe this album – layered. From the layering of instruments to the range of lyrical topics to the wide array of musical styles, Costa flexes his songwriting muscles from start to finish.
The first track “Loving You” kicks off the album with a Vivaldi-esque violin part worthy of a Renaissance dance hall. This is quickly replaced by a heavy, foot-stomping back beat on drums and tambourine.
Costa then reels in the listener with the playful lyrics “Loving you is not hard to do/we’re always going to make it through/you’ve got my attention/here’s my affection for you.”
And the stylistic journey begins.
The affectionate lyrics in “Loving You” almost reaches back to the love ballads of the Beatles’ early days. Trumpets accompany the drums and wall of orchestral sound and kick off the rest of an album certainly worthy of our affection.
What stands out in this newest addition to Costa’s discography is the impressive range of musical styles that place him alongside some of the very best in indie music today.
A far cry from his debut EP with simple guitar and vocal songs like “Acting Like a Fool,” Costa shows musical maturity and a boldness to leave his comfort zone.
Written in a cottage in the Scottish countryside, the album hearkens back to the landscape-inspired sounds of The Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan and The Band.
Costa certainly achieves his goal of leaving behind the sounds of South California in favor of expanding his musical horizons.
Good times are certainly coming for Matt Costa – an idea he himself toys with in the album’s fourth track “Good Times”.
The track is guided along by a deep walking bass and a spirited clapped back beat. Trumpet riffs and pulsing piano sounds accompany the gruff pop-sounding lyrics.
Costa adds a nice twist in the lyrics with the repeated chorus “good times are coming/to an end.”
By defying the upbeat nature of the music with a negative twist Costa snatches the listener’s attention once again.
Attention is certainly needed to appreciate the musical diversity.
Costa’s clear affection for music in this album is the perfect tribute to the artists that inspire musicians today.
From songs like “Ophelia” with vocal delivery and harmonica parts reminiscent of Bob Dylan to “Early November” – a tip of the hat to Sandy Denny’s 1971 song “Late November” – Costa delivers an album worthy of even the harshest music critics.
Costa has found his place alongside mainstream bands such as MGMT and Death Cab for Cutie and their indie blend of musical styles and inspirations.
With a clear nod to 1960s folk rock movement, the ninth track “Ophelia” tells the story of a man’s unrequited love.
Told poetically in the first person, the lyrics paint the picture of travelling by train through corn fields in the night.
With the closing lines “you’re the finest thing I’ve ever seen/like fire melts ice, it’s true/Ophelia, can I spend the night with you,” Costa completes the story of yearning and desire.
Opening with the sound of an accordion, “Ophelia” guides the listener through the lyrical journey with Bob Dylan-style singing and bluesy harmonica parts – a tribute to the early masters of folk rock.
Having grown up in Southern California in the 1990s, Costa was privileged to be submerged in the folksy singer-songwriter culture of the region – an environment that has clearly inspired his earlier work.
After suffering a broken leg at 19—an injury that ended his hopes of becoming a professional skateboarder—Costa turned to music.
His earlier albums show a developing talent for songwriting and musical arranging. From his simple guitar and vocal songs to the increasingly complicated ones on “Mobile Chateau” in 2010, Costa has progressively produced more and more creative music.
If the new “Matt Costa” album is any indication of the 30-year-old’s future potential, we can expect to see some impressive things to come.
It does not look like good times will be coming to an end anytime soon.