As heavy as they are brooding in their statements, the vocals Matt Smith offers in “I’d Do Anything for You” are powerful and arguably as profound as any of the playful fretwork they’re accompanied by, but in all honesty, they’re no more a focal point than they are in the folky “How We Got to Here” and lush title track in Being Human, his new album out now everywhere indie rock is sold and streamed.
MATT SMITH: http://www.mattsmithsworld.net/
Smith is an amazing guitarist, but in Being Human, he seems particularly focused on sharing his linguistic skillset with us on every possible occasion; whether contending with larger than life grooves in “Sanctuary” or crashing into punky riffage in “I Got the Girl,” his voice is always the linchpin holding everything together in this record. Though hardly the lone reason I would list this LP as one of the more well-rounded I’ve listened to in 2020, Smith’s singing consistently feels like the central agent of evocation in this latest release, which is earning quite a bit of buzz from critics around the underground this season – and for good reason.
Smith’s influences are as diverse as the American songbook itself, and if that wasn’t already obvious when listening to any of his previous releases, I think it becomes difficult for even the most ignorant of critics among us to disregard when browsing this tracklist. A grungy anthem of self-awareness comes barreling out silence ready to rip anything and everything in its path asunder in the amazing “Down in the Hole” as seamlessly as “Everybody Wanna Do the Don’t” openly flirts with an 80s-style hybridity that would normally sound out of context if any artist had been at the helm of this project other than an Austin staple like Matt Smith. I like the sizzle on the guitars in “Sanctuary” and title track, but more than that, I like how controlled it is. There’s no overindulgence for us to try and look past in Being Human, and regardless of the tempo or stylization of the music in general, the clarity behind the board allows for us to enjoy every intricate detail in the master mix. It’s varnished, but not to a degree of feeling plastic.
If this is on par with what Matt Smith is going to be dedicating the next decade of his long and storied career to, I would have to say that the 2020s could be an even more exciting era for his career than any of the four to precede it (which is certainly no small statement for any critic to make). September has been turning out to be quite the month for indie fans around the globe, but if you’re looking for something familiar in spirit and deeply tied to the roots of a ‘never say die’ Austin, Texas scene, I would recommend this LP above all others right now. Smith nails this latest effort, which is only one of eight different full-length albums (and ten additional reissues) being released under his moniker this year.
by Bethany Page