Sly, sensuous and studded with a gilded groove that is the stuff of legends – “You Are There,” one of the swankiest songs listeners will encounter in The Best of Matthew John, has all the right ingredients to spellbind you inside of its three and a half minutes of heart-melting melodies. Matthew John is working his magic in a way that only he can in this track, but this isn’t the only time that we’ll find ourselves swept away by his unfiltered harmonies in this latest release, which is expected out this summer and has already been kicking up a storm of publicity in the North American pop underground. “You Are There” is one of the more relaxed songs that The Best of Matthew John has to offer us; in the slightly more anxious swagger of “Reach for the Stars,” we get another taste of John’s exquisite minimalism, only this round features an extra dash of dexterous string play just to sweeten the deal.
“Reach for the Stars” is probably my favorite Matthew John tune of all time, which makes it all the more remarkable that the blues ballad “Let’s Begin Again” affected me as much as it did here. The intro to the track is reminiscent of that stone cold feeling you get when you’re walking down a dark, lonesome alleyway in the evening, usually in an attempt to shortcut your way home, and suddenly there’s a presence there with you, though you’re unable to determine what it is. Haunting us in the shadows, lurking in the backdrop, watching us from afar; the bassline that echoes in the distance of “Let’s Begin Again” isn’t all that dissimilar to the silent ghosts we find on the city streets when we think we’re all by ourselves. It’s not nearly as warm and graceful in its tone as “Shine for Me” is, but the two make for perfect counterparts in this record without a doubt. Matthew John is one of the most multifaceted artists of his scene, and we get to know him in as up-close and personal a perspective as would be possible in a studio-recorded experience like this one.
Whether it’s fun-loving swing that you’re looking for or simply a daily dose of evocative contemplation, Matthew John has you covered this summer with The Best of Matthew John, which is an album that I would recommend to anyone who has grown sick and tired of the blasé substance (or at least, what little substance there is at all) of modern pop. There’s no scene politics to be sorted through, no big time guitar solos or headline guest appearances from artists outside of John’s own artistic circles here; there’s just a man, his music, and an underlying sense of passion that carries us from one track to the next, not unlike what we would experience when listening to a full-blown concept album. With so much hybridity making noise in contemporary music today, it’s nice to find a little bit of consistency in a performer like this one, who demonstrates his commitment to the craft excellently in this latest release.