Singer/songwriter Matt Smith has nothing left to prove to the critics with the release of his new album Being Human; judging from its freewheeling, completely eclectic content, this record is about letting this acclaimed Austin player have a little fun in the studio. Comprised of eight new tracks, each of which feels a bit less pretentious than it should coming from someone of Smith’s pedigree, Being Human invites us along for a rollercoaster ride of rhythm and rhyme, and for all that it lacks in mainstream frills it more than compensates us for in sheer originality and introspective poetic substance.
MATT SMITH’S WORLD: https://www.facebook.com/Matt-Smiths-World-184094611621949/
I really dig the physicality of the instrumentation in “Everybody Wanna Do the Don’t,” “I Got the Girl” and even the softer “God is Watching Over You,” and while it doesn’t rival what some of the surreal pop players have been coming up with in the American underground this summer, I don’t believe it was ever meant to. Smith isn’t hiding the fact that he’s willing to embrace some cerebral influences similar to those his younger contemporaries are, but as is the case with any vet over the incoming class of talent, he’s got a lot more self-control in his decision making.
In all honesty, I probably would have pushed the title cut and “Sanctuary” deeper into the tracklist rather than starting off the album with them as Smith did in this instance, but other than that the overall flow of the record is really nice and almost on the same level as what you can expect to hear in Live at the Saxon Pub (also released this year). He’s never trying to merge elements that don’t belong together in the material so much as he’s experimenting with hybrids and how much mileage he can get out of them while still keeping a little Americana in the mix, and that’s a venture I can definitely respect as a critic.
While this is probably the most polished album Matt Smith has released production-wise, it neither feels oversaturated in synthesized gloss nor piled high with more bells and whistles than the audience would likely know what to do with. There aren’t any overblown guitar solos and silly drum breakdowns that protrude into the simple vocal harmonies in “How We Got to Hear” or “I’d Do Anything for You;” we’re not spending time with a fireworks show in Being Human, but instead taking in some personal commentary from a songwriter thinking back on the long road traveled with a pleasant grin (most of the time).
If you’ve yet to hear his work before now and have been looking for a reason to get into it, Matt Smith’s Being Human is an LP that I’d grab for your collection before this late summer has met its expiration. Smith is unrestrained and unapologetically at ease with his medium in this record, and as strange as it might seem – or right on track with the overarching theme of 2020 – that’s not as easy to come by as it once was in contemporary pop music.
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