Saturday, July 27, 2019

Matthew John releases “best of” collections

It’s not often enough that simplistic string melodies are given a starring role in an inarguably vocal-based pop musician’s songcraft, but that’s exactly the case in Matthew John’s “Shine for Me,” one of four tracks that can be found on his new record, The Best of Matthew John. John is a beacon of hope in this song, illuminating the stoic framework of the rhythm with his warm vocal, imparting unto us a bevy of emotions that transcend the limitations of lyrics altogether. 

He’s expressing a deeper love for his medium in this composition than artists who have been in the business twice as long as he has typically would, and even when it seems like we’ve experienced the most powerful of his verses, there’s another sequence of words waiting to wow us with their cutting introspection. The same can be said of “Reach for the Stars,” an inspirational ballad that employs a lot of the same stylistic cues that its counterparts do on this disc, only with the addition of a distinctly surreal edge in its patterned string play. “Reach for the Stars” is ultra-emotive in every respect. The music can take the edge off of the toughest of days, while the vocal angelically floats above the beats, never quite synchronizing with the grooves as to create maximum catharsis in the perfectly aligned chorus. Matthew John’s extensive songwriting background is on full display for us in this composition, as it is in “Let’s Begin Again,” a track that I would describe as somewhat of a signature piece highlighting his trademark tonality.

He becomes one with the instrumental backdrop in this single-worthy ballad, and there are even a couple of instances where it’s difficult to discern his voice from the harmonizing electric guitar. John has such an amazing way with his words, but there’s just as much to be said about his compositional prowess, which has only grown more exceptional as the years have gone by. These are definitely the best songs in his discography, and they’re neatly packaged in this record for anyone – fans new and old alike – to enjoy.

“You Are There” brings The Best of Matthew John to a close on a high note, but I do think that it’s an interesting choice to end this particular record. It’s got a rather retrospective tone both in its verses as well as in its textured melodies, which isn’t often found in a Best Of conclusion (but works here just the same). No matter what strain of pop music you prefer, you’re bound to find something to relate to in this amazingly cohesive extended play from Matthew John. With any luck, this will serve as but a teaser for whatever new material he has planned for release in 2020, and my gut says that we’re going to be seeing said material a lot sooner than later. The buzz surrounding this cat’s work is undeniably mammoth at the moment, and calls for a full-length album could become too loud for John to ignore as 2019 comes to an end.

Joshua Beach

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