Matt Lowell - Swan Lake - EP

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Matt Lowell
Swan Lake - EP
Matt Lowell - Swan Lake - EP Review rating:
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Matt Lowell was at first seen as yet another Berklee graduate trying to find his own sound. The singer-songwriter had previously released two EP’s and toured continually in support of his acoustic works, but struggled to make a name for himself as he started to appear in various shows and radios. Now, with his Swan Lake EP, the singer-songwriter era passes to make way for Lowell’s flowing creativity. The lush, vibrantly layered sounds on each track boast crisp production and unique style, making this a milestone in Lowell’s career.

What makes this EP instantly stand out from his earlier music is the introduction of New York’s Magik*Magik Orchestra, whose intricate stringed arrangements fit perfectly with tracks like the opening title track. Matt’s searching lyrics and downtempo melodies place him somewhere between Dave Mathews and John Mayer. This is best heard in the song “Sage and Manzanita”, with the chorus “This may be too much to handle/no no, no no/this may be too much to take/no no, no no/ this may by own heart’s mistake/but I’m bound to break”.

“Swan Lake” is perhaps the strongest song out of them all, from its exploring start to the female oohh-ahhs trailing it out. But if lofty melodies fail to capture the listener, Lowell has expanded musically by playing tired acoustic runs like “South Bend”. The subtle synthesizer is a wonderful return to form, helping transitions without being too flashy or obnoxious. Lest anyone think that this is another sophomoric attempt at being more than it is, Lowell’s approach to music is not ambitious but it well-crafted, and is diverse without being spread too thin.

The songs are smooth and simple for the most part, which works to Lowell’s advantage. At some points his vocal performance is a bit dodgy, but by and large he has memorable vocal parts, at times resembling Mat Kearney, at others times giving a tip of the hat to David Gray. This is largely forgivable considering where Lowell has been, but if questionable falsetto notes are not your fancy, there might be some cringe-worthy moments.

Other influences can be heard, but this EP is a milestone because it’s the first time witnessing Lowell branch out with styles: whether he’s experimenting with synth additions or collaborating with an orchestra to create much larger sounds than before, Swan Lake is hopefully foreshadowing a lot of potential for Lowell to shine in the same way in the future.

1. Swan Lake
2. Turrets and Castanets
3. South Bend
4. S.O.S. Angeles
5. Sage and Manzanita
6. Youth and Innocence

Boston Artist Matt Lowell is a Berklee College of Music graduate that has had success as headliner of "The Camplified Tour", largest Camp tour in the United States. Mostly performing shows in the most simple form with just an acoustic guitar and his voice, Matt has teamed up with 2007 Boston Music Award's 'Local Producer of the Year' Crit Harmon (also producer for Martin Sexton). The result is Matt's brand new "First Taste EP" set to be released late this fall early winter.

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Batman
Batman says... "Taking Back Sunday composes their music first, then the lyrics."

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