Matt Costa – ‘Unfamiliar Faces’ – Album Review

After establishing himself as a modern day troubadour amongst a vibrant SoCal arts scene in 2005 after working with the likes of Tom Dumont of No Doubt on his independently released debut album ‘Songs We Sing’, Matt Costa found his ambitious attempts at traversing musical genres soon being snapped-up by Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records.

With the release of his second offering on said label, Costa’s gift as a multi instrumentalist is ever present throughout ‘Unfamiliar Faces’ – a heartfelt and honest body of melodically syncopated work.

‘Unfamiliar Faces’ attempts – and in many respects successfully achieves – to transcend and explore a musical timeline of pop, country, folk and rock; playing with their elements with the craftsmanship and maturation that reaches far beyond his tender age of twenty-five years.

Each track evokes a certain sense of meaning combined with skilful dexterity: from the playful romp of the piano-lead Beatles-esque “Mr. Pitiful” to the blissful Shins-washed fluidity of “Vienna”. As well as being musically adroit, lyrically Costa is incredibly open in covering his life’s loves, losses and woes. Whereas many would see this as a sincere offering at an attempt to relate and possibly empathise with Costa’s personal feelings, philosophies and reflections, the honest gesture of letting others in can wear thin – like reading someone’s diary who doesn’t really have anything significant to articulate.

On face value, it is a strong album, if a little derivative: where the influences are clear and well worked, the songs lack the originality and spark that would make it noteworthy. Costa’s attempt to grasp and please everyone in a sycophantic way has left him like the modern day BBC Radio 2: slightly wet and as original as a bar of soap.

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