Matt Costa’s first full-length album, “Songs We Sing,” is sure to surprise any listener who is expecting just another whiny, guitar-playing pop-rocker.
Re-released by Brushfire Records on March 28, “Songs We Sing” winds through a blend of pop, rock, folk and country that’s more genuine and original than any current pop record.
The incredibly authentic album, completely written and recorded by Costa, was independently released in 2005 in limited numbers, and has since been re-mixed and re-mastered.
Costa’s first single, “Cold December,” is reminiscent of label-mate Jack Johnson’s bubbly guitar strumming, but is distinctively richer with added instruments and guitar tracks. Costa’s voice sounds real and untouched; as if he’s sitting right next to you singing about lost love, not recording in a studio.
Costa, 23, began his career as a pro skateboarder before shattering his leg three years ago in a skateboarding accident. During his 18-month recovery, he focused his attention on the guitar that was given to him as a gift when he was 12 years old, which was long overshadowed by his skateboarding success.
Costa began writing and recording songs on a mini tape recorder while rehabilitating his leg. The homemade demo began circulating among friends in his hometown of Huntington Beach before falling into the hands of No Doubt guitarist, Tom Dumont.
Five of those first recordings became Costa’s self-titled, debut EP, distributed with the help of Dumont in 2003. The first track from the EP, “Astair,” is reworked and included as track No. 2 on “Songs We Sing.”
“Astair” also laments forlorn love, but experiments with a more organic, bluegrass sound. Costa sings the unfussy, but heartfelt lines, “Astair you’re there and I’m still here/I swear I’m so confused/The signs you wear are making me/Feel like I’m the one to lose.”
The title track to “Songs We Sing” brings a refreshing break to the laid-back, pop-rock harmonies of the first half of the album with galloping, harmonica-filled interludes that seem right at home in a country western flick. However, Costa’s voice lacks the necessary twang to make it sound like a true country song.
Track No. 6, “Ballad of Miss Kate,” carries a distinctive rock sound that is reminiscent of Lynard Skynard classics. Track No. 7,”Sweet Rose,” follows suit, sounding like something Johnny Cash would play, as Costa sings the charming lyrics, “My sweet rose/As the two of us change/I want you to know that nothing stays the same/But you and I, we will remain/My rose, remember my rose.”
Costa’s style is simple but enticing, with his guitar-playing skills and creativity really shining above any other aspect of his music. He has diverse tastes that make it impossible to categorize him, which is quite an achievement for a young artist just starting out.
“Songs We Sing” is easy listening for anyone who enjoys catchy pop-rock music that’s more compelling than mainstream. Costa’s musical debut is sure to change this skater-turned-rocker into a legitimate pop star.
Costa is also featured on Jack Johnson’s newly released soundtrack from the film “Curious George.”