Matt Costa : Unfamiliar Faces

<img src="" alt=" " />Matt Costa goes a bit brighter and poppy-er on <em>Unfamiliar Faces</em>, his sophomore follow-up to his 2006 hit debut LP, <em>Songs We Sing</em>....
7.4 Brushfire

 Matt Costa goes a bit brighter and poppy-er on Unfamiliar Faces, his sophomore follow-up to his 2006 hit debut LP, Songs We Sing. The one-time Huntingdon Beach skateboarder (he had to quit following a debilitating 2003 accident; in the eighteen months of recuperation and recovery, Costa wrote the core of what would become Songs) has been doing pretty well since his demo fell into the hands of No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont, with Dumont as his producer, opening for everybody from Jack Johnson to The Vandals, and touring South America with G. Love and others.  Thankfully, despite its name, Unfamiliar Faces isn’t a ‘woe is me’ tour & fame whine, but rather some catchy, sweet indie-pop and alt-country.

Faces opens with single “Mr. Pitiful”; infectious, even snarky, this piece of piano-pop is great, though not as representative of the album as a leadoff track/first single should be.  The rest of the record is more straightforward, whether pretty and flowing like the following “Lilacs”, an indie-country croon like the subsequent “Never Looking Back”, or both, such as with the next, “Emergency Call”.  Costa plays both sides well, and “Emergency” benefits from both.

However, Costa’s not reinventing the wheel here, either, and sometimes Faces comes off a bit too simple, like the soft-rock-ish “Vienna” or the title track ditty-doo.  And the stripped-down croon of the penultimate “Heart Of Stone” plays too much like a ballad.  Faces is stronger when the man stretches a bit more, such as with the alt-country twang of “Downfall”, the darker blues of “Bound”, or the folksy down-home rollick of finisher “Miss Magnolia”.

If Matt Costa lacks some ambition, he makes up for it in hook on Unfamiliar Faces.  You can’t help but enjoy his style, and can’t wait to hear what he does next.

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