NEW ON CD
Matt Costa recently did a European tour with Jack Johnson. Maybe we'll get to see him at next year's Kokua Fest.
Accident took Costa to music
The artist roster on Jack Johnson's label continues to grow with the release of a very impressive album from a skateboarder-turned-musician.
"Songs We Sing"
The 23-year-old Costa, in fact, was so good a sport skater that he could've easily turned pro had it not been for a skateboarding accident that shattered one of his legs. During his extensive recovery and rehabilitation, he started writing simple songs on a guitar and using a mini-tape recorder.
Two years later, his homemade demos, now recorded on a four-track machine, made the rounds in his hometown of Huntington Beach, Calif. One of them found its way to No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont. Dumont was sufficiently impressed to have Costa record more demos at his own home studio.
Using an EP as a jumping-off point, Dumont went on to produce and engineer Costa's debut album, an appealing collection of tunes more evocative of the 1960s than the present.
"Songs We Sing" kicks off with "Cold December," which has a warm and summery feel despite its title. Costa, at times, likes to contrast dark, sometimes melancholy, lyrics with buoyant musical arrangements, such as the hearty and welcoming "Sunshine."
"These Arms" has one of the more interesting arrangements, piano-based with a fuzz electric guitar bridge pushing along lyrics of unrequited love. The same feeling can be said for the closing "Wash Away," the music very evocative of British folk-rock. "Oh Dear" has a quaint vibe that nevertheless resonates with deep emotion.
With the help of Dumont, fellow No Doubter/drummer Adrian Young, and other musician friends, Costa is equally adept with simpler tunes -- the Buddy Holly-ish country approach on "Sweet Rose" and "Behind the Moon," taking a cue from early Ray Davies of the Kinks -- to the more involved.
The rather fanciful "Ballad of Miss Kate" is a driving Western story tune about a prostitute on the run from a shooting. And while "Yellow Taxi" is not a continuation of Joni Mitchell's protesting "Big Yellow Taxi," it does have a very pretty melody, once again British-sounding, and showcases Costa's multi-instrumental talent. Since Matt Costa recently did a European tour with Johnson, don't be surprised to see him in next year's Kokua Festival.