I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve always gravitated towards music that is hard, if not impossible, to categorize under standard genre labels like “pop” or “rock.” I like music that goes against the grain, that dares to be different from the rest both musically and lyrically, the latter being a factor if there are even any vocals to begin with. There isn’t much data on the subject, but I think that most people, even if they don’t completely realize it, also enjoy music that doesn’t fit as neatly into boxes as other stuff does (i.e. pretty much anything that you’ll find on your FM dial these days). Once upon a time we had terms like alternative rock and post-rock, but they’ve grown a bit tired and pointless in this age of incomparable technology and ever expanding styles and means of recording. This kind of music drives the establishment crazy, because they don’t know how to market it alongside whatever they’re selling at the moment and maintain an edge on consumers. In that sense, Matthew Browning, a pop/rock singer/songwriter out of Colorado, is one of the more rebellious voices in music today.
Browning has discovered a way of making indulgent pop music in an almost minimalist, muted format, and it’s simply magical to listen to. Not only are his melodies delightfully easy to digest, they’re served up to us in such graceful manner that we can’t help but become enamored by their delicacy. Unlike a lot of his closest competitors pursuing the same stardom that he is, Matthew Browning is rigidly focused in his music, almost to an overwhelming point, and his dedication to creating songs that don’t remind us of anyone else and yet manage to evoke emotions and thoughts that are so elementary in anyone’s life is awe-inspiring. In “I Walked Over the Edge,” one of the singles from his new record Love & Grief, we take an unsuspended dive, a freefall into the ocean of sonic psychology that is Browning’s aesthetic and the foundation of his entire songcraft. The trip isn’t for the timid; this is the kind of music that requires a somewhat sophisticated ear to really absorb its grandeur.
In addition to “I Walked Over the Edge,” Browning also has another single from Love & Grief titled “Underneath the Willow Tree” that is an excellently appointed point of entry for listeners that are looking to get to know the man behind the music. Love & Grief as a whole piece gives us a great deal of insight into who Browning the musician is, but I feel like on his next album we’re going to get an even better idea about what he’s really capable of when all of the restrictions and pressures of a debut are eliminated. This is deeply ambitious music, but something in my gut tells me that it’s just a taste of what Matthew Browning is packing in his repertoire. These singles are a pair of stylish hits, but what comes next may well be earth-shattering.