After the appearance of “Songs We Sing” in 2006, 23 year-old Huntington Beach native Matt Costa put his mark on the indie/folk music scene. With happy-go-lucky melodies, quirky good looks and a friend named Jack Johnson, Costa almost instantaneously earned popularity.
It’s three years later, and the most anticipated follow-up, “Unfamiliar Faces,” has finally arrived.
Unlike other artists who stray from their original sound, Costa delivers his signature folk/indie style with a subtle twist.
The first single off the record, “Mr. Pitiful,” is a brilliant indie/pop song. At first listen, the repeated lyrics and piano intro may appear to be monotonous, but give it time and it actually works well with the song. The creative indie/pop beats and tender lyrics make this song unique.
On the other hand, “Lilacs” was a little disappointing. What seemed to be a sweet tune turned slow, boring and simple. The song overall felt a little immature in the sense that it can’t compare to “Mr. Pitiful” or songs from Costa’s previous record.
“Never Looking Back” is a contemporary folk song that resembles the acoustic sound of Donovan or Dylan. “Heart of Stone” also fits in the same genre. Although it’s a little more somber, it’s still a good song.
Costa uses heavy influence from bluegrass, country, and folk with both “Emergency Call” and “Bound.” With twang slide guitar and loud vocals, “Emergency Call” was not a favorite. “Bound” sounds almost like a folk/blues song with dark piano keys and rather depressing lyrics.
Although there is no doubt Costa can do slower songs, his signature upbeat folk is what suits him best.
“Cigarette Eyes,” “Downfall” and “Trying to Loose My Mind,” all sound similar. Each sounds like a variation of one singular indie song. They were nice songs but had no originality.
Then there comes “Vienna.” This song plays with a samba-style of music that is absolutely breathtaking. Lost in Costa’s dreamy, free flowing voice and airy guitar, this song stands on its own. Costa captures the essence of “Vienna,” and creates a beautiful and romantic masterpiece.
“Unfamiliar Faces” was the best of the indie tunes. Unlike the others that sounded similar, this song had a very unusual sound that was a throwback to The Beatles or Peter and Gordon’s “A World Without Love.”
Costa definitely saved the best for last with “Miss Magnolia.” “Miss Magnolia” is the sequel to “Sunshine” from his first record. With Costa’s joyful singing and spirited banjo strumming, this is a quintessential indie/folk tune that puts listeners in a good mood.
Even if some of the slower songs on “Unfamiliar Faces” were not the best, this record is definitely worth buying for Costa’s strengths, and his impeccably joyous indie/folk melodies.