Matthew John is wearing his heart on his sleeve when he lays the lyrical patchwork of “Reach for the Stars” before us in The Best of Matthew John. This isn’t the only track where John bears it all to us, though; in the sexy sonic treat “Let’s Begin Again,” he looks back on a troubled relationship with optimism rather than scorn. He’s honest with his nameless lover, begging for a reconsideration of the commitments that have been made, and more importantly, the love that is still burning between them. “Shine for Me” follows a similar route, but its narrative could relate to platonic relationship just as well as it can to romantic ones. With the addition of the brooding “You Are There,” The Best of Matthew John rounds out a compelling set of songs that pay homage to the legacy of iconic pop stylishness whilst looking ahead into the future of the genre and the skill of one of its most interesting players. Unsurprisingly, John confirms his status as among the more remarkable voices in his scene here, not only through his bold lyricism, but through the lofty harmonies that accompany it.
The lyrics aren’t the only evocative piece of the puzzle that is The Best of Matthew John. There’s a lot for us to pick through in the instrumental breakdown of the music in this record, with the poetic narrative of a song like “Let’s Begin Again” being met with an equally intriguing story that’s told exclusively by the bluesy riffing that runs beside the verses. There’s nothing here to indicate anything but sincerity on the part of John, who relentlessly takes his own pride and perceptions of humanity to task in these tracks, using minor key melodies to counter uplifting statements about the way that life could be, were it to go according to plan just a little more often than it actually tends to in reality. It’s not the sort of pop music that was designed to sell us Pepsi products or appeal to some sense of wanting to fit in with the cool kids on the schoolyard; this is truly and completely an expression of self for Matthew John, and in a time where doing as much isn’t looked upon with the same favor as blending-in is, that makes his new EP an organic treasure in a world overstocked with trash and toxicity.
For longtime Matthew John buffs, this is a must-have selection of his most profoundly moving ballads. Even if you haven’t heard his music before, The Best of Matthew John doesn’t overwhelm us with so much content that we’re unable to get a clear picture of who this artist really is beneath the glitz and glamour of a well-polished compilation piece. Hopefully we’ll see some new material out of this guy before the decade expires, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up taking his time before heading back into the studio again. John strikes me as the type of musician who takes the process of making a record a lot more seriously than most do, and no matter how he broaches his next project, I think it’s safe to say that, based on how he’s handled things so far, he’ll do it with one hundred percent of his being.
by Bethany Page
Live performances are nothing like the conventional studio process; they give us a side of …