Being Human (LP) by Matt Smith
Starting with the sultry swing of “Sanctuary” and pushing through the dewy melodies of its title track, the textured “How We Got to Here” and finally bringing us to our emotional knees in “I’d Do Anything for You,” Matt Smith’s Being Human is quite the conceptual LP, but it’s far from bombastic progressive rock.
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The acoustic strings come flowing from the speakers in “How We Got to Here” ready to embrace anyone who comes close, their harmony reflecting a certain pastoral sensibility that isn’t present at all in songs like “Everybody Wanna Do the Don’t” and “Down in the Hole,” but just the same, these tracks feel like they were cut from the same cloth. When you’ve got the kind of trademark sound Smith is working with these days, there isn’t a need to bring in a lot of synthetic big guns when you’re trying to create a fun new record for people to get into. Outside of his devoted cult following in Austin, this singer/songwriter is already well-known for his abilities, and more importantly, the careful approach he takes to every track he puts his name on.
There are definitely pop influences in Being Hume – “Sanctuary,” “Everybody Wanna Do the Don’t” and “I Got the Girl,” the latter of which is an outright punk rock song wedged between two aesthetical polar opposites, are each single-caliber compositions that are undeniably hook-driven, but they don’t feel dependent on their climaxes to hold the audience’s attention. This album has some of the warmest vocals I’ve heard from Matt Smith in his career so far, and the harmonies they help to create are solely responsible for catalyzing the tense elements in “God is Watching Over You” and the title track. It’s quite an unconventional way to go about making a new LP, but Smith has never actually claimed to be anything but a true-blue Austin weirdo (a badge, I should add for those who don’t know, that one is inclined to wear with a great deal of pride). This latest work is an extension of his past with an experimental glimpse into what his future could sound like, provided he doesn’t stray from the path that’s brought him this far.
Listeners who are just discovering the music of Matt Smith for themselves shouldn’t waste any time in getting their hands on a copy of Being Human as soon as possible, as it could well be one of the more accessible offerings in appreciating what he can do as leader of the band he’s ever released.
It isn’t hard to see why he’s had as much hype around his collection of new LPs set to debut in 2020 (eight in total) when listening to any of the eight songs here, and best of all, despite his being one of the more talented singer/songwriters I’ve reviewed in the last month or two, he doesn’t have any arrogant moments in this disc. His is a life spent in service of the craft, and for that he deserves all the respect I can muster.