Album Reviews: Songs We Sing (Promo) by Matt CostaThose who frequently dismiss Jack Johnson as the kind of milquetoast singer-songwriter that defines the legacy of James Taylor (this reviewer included) might want to take a minute consider how really challenging Death Cab for Cutie actually is. These two artists might be considered bookends to the work of Matt Costa, a young singer-songwriter whose debut album has just been released by Johnson's Brushfire label. By keeping a foot firmly planted in Death Cabby indie territory, Costa is able to explore the purely accessible territory that Johnson works, while still sounding hip enough for the indie kids to appreciate. Costa received laudatory nods late last year from both the LA Times and Fader Magazine, a testament to the breadth of his appeal.
That breadth extends from the primarily folk tone of this album well into both electric rock and country-tinged pop, not to mention an uncanny Buddy Holly-esque swinger ("Sweet Rose") and a spot-on interpretation of Nick Drake ("Yellow Taxi"). Costa's delivery never ventures too far beyond delicate and soft, even in his considerable forays into heavily (occasionally overly) emotional territory. But his brand of folky, largely acoustic guitar-based music evokes the brittle emo of Pinback or the aforementioned Death Cab -- just with a way more sunny outlook. All together, it suggests that Costa has a few tricks up his sleeve, and you may be hearing a lot more from him in the very near future. - Cory O'Malley
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