Matt Costa’s new self titled album is a conjunction of all his past efforts; a cohesive blend of dreamy surf pop with romanticized vocals and creative melodies.
This is Costa’s most mature effort to date, really perfecting that vintage sound he adapted on Mobile Chateau blended with the masterful songwriting roots of Unfamiliar Faces and Songs We Sing.It’s big and bold, yet subtle and stripped down when it needs to be. Songs like “Loving You” and “Good Times” have that Beach Boys- surf pop feel, while “Eyes for You” and “Clipped Wings” have graduated to a Paul Simon type level- showcasing growth in his songwriting skills. Costa recorded this album in Glasgow with Belle and Sebastian, and the inspiration is heard. “Silver Sea” has perhaps the most recognizable influence of traditional Celtic music with tribal instrumentation and a chant like lyrical structure. The album as a whole is more experimental, utilizing orchestrations to round out the music. It’s not overbearing, but just the right amount to add another dimension to Matt Costa’s already crafty songs.
Matt Costa rushed the stage on a Saturday night in San Francisco with a smile on his face, quickly glancing over the eager audience of Slims. He headed straight to his keyboard where he sat down and waited for the rest of his band to get situated. Through cheers and jeers he plunged into perhaps his biggest single, “Mr. Pitiful.” It was almost as he was getting the song out of the way, but it really energized the crowd for the entirety of the show. Costa was on point, hitting every note with clarity and really brought his songs to life with his humble energy and excitement. Matt did a great job playing songs from all of his albums. Some of the highlights were when Costa played “Desires Only Fling” and the high energy “Behind the Moon” (Off Songs We Sing) with a twelve string guitar, in which he broke a string but continued to thrash his way through the set without changing it. During the song “Miss Magnolia,” Costa placed the Mic stand below the stage with the audience. He started the song with the crowd and slowly danced away from the Mic. At one point, he stopped to sing a verse acapella, which had the whole crowds attention. Even the band members on stage seemed to get a kick out of his theatrics.
On several songs Costa had his wife come out and sing back up vocals. At one point, a girl from the crowd shouted- “I want you to sit on my face.” Matt chuckled and sheepishly retorted, “careful now, that’s my wife on stage.” The guitar player also scratched his head, “isn’t that illegal?” He chimed. The vibe of the show was very casual, even during songs like “Eyes for You” Costa always held the crowds attention. Though the crowd wasn’t too familiar with his latest album, which just dropped last month, they still danced to the songs they barely recognized. “Good Times,” and “Loving You” are catchy tunes that one doesn’t have to know to dance, or appreciate. Even during the eccentric song, “Next Time,” the crowd honored Matt’s talent and incredible backing band. With a new bass player and a slide guitarist, Costa’s sound was full and crisp.
One of my favorite moments was the encore, and I’m usually not to keen on those. Costa came out with just his guitar and played “Vienna,” a beautiful ballad. It was the first time we got to see just Matt and his guitar, and it proved his worth. At only thirty years old, he played like a veteran in his prime. He was happy that this was his show and eager to prove he belonged there. Like his music, he is constantly evolving and impressing. Although at times his songs resemble the Beatles or Bob Dylan, and he is widely linked to Jack Johnson, Costa is a musician that should stand alone without comparisons. He isn’t afraid of pushing boundaries, and his live show exemplifies how talented he is. I would highly recommend seeing him, especially while he’s still selling out smaller venues.
Check out the interview I did with Matt at SF Station!!!