When people first find out that I get sent CDs to review, their usual response is “You get free CDs?!? Cool!” And it is cool… I suppose. But what people don’t realize is that you get what you pay for. In other words, a lot of those free CDs are, well, crap. And it starts to wear on you, especially when you grab a handful of those CDs to listen to at work and you know it’s going to be a long day. Perhaps that’s why I’ve become such a music snob. It’s not that I’m elitist… it’s just that I’ve heard quite a lot of garbage over the past few years and it’s tiring.
But then something like Matt Easton appears in my mailbox, and it feels like a breath of fresh air. Easton isn’t doing anything mind-blowing here. He’s just very adept at penning good songs, musically and lyrically. He seems to understand that sometimes, all people want to hear is a good voice paired with a great melody singing honest, poetic lyrics. The opening track shows Easton taps into the same spirit as Denison Witmer, as he croons “And when the waves rise high/I am in the water with you/And I love you.” Musically, it’s not quite as sparse as Witmer, but the subtlety and honesty is still there.
Although Easton considers the likes of Neil Finn and Elliot Smith as his peers, the rest of the album reminds me a great deal of Mark Eitzel. Granted, Easton isn’t quite as misanthropic or self-deprecating as Eitzel, but “Save Me From Myself” and “All My Dreams” runs in the same vein as 60 Watt Silver Lining. Easton’s voice isn’t quite as rough and worn — in other words, he doesn’t sound like he downed a bottle of whiskey before recording — but they still contain enough of an edge to rise above the synth strings and jazzy percussion.
With many of the CDs I get, I can’t wait for them to finish so I can put in something else, only to repeat the cycle a couple of more times. But there’s a reason Easton has been in constant rotation at home and at work. And you’d be doing yourself a big favor to discover him for yourself.