One of the beauties of contemporary music is genre-mashing, the art of taking seemingly unrelated styles and influences, and making one coherent sound. With his sophomore effort Co-Patriot, Josh Matthews has created a sound all his own, and for better or worse the songs will stick with you.
Josh Matthews takes listeners on a down-home journey with what is labeled as “urban-folk”. Co-Patriot is like song creation in real time. With some tracks actually pausing momentarily, almost as if Josh Matthews is collecting his thoughts, and re-configuring the lyrics. As a listener, you are along for this ride, and the more you listen to Co-Patriot, the more it feels like you’re helping him in this process. When songs introduce strange instrumentation’s, such as bagpipes over breakbeats, you feel as if you were in the room pointing out the different things in the room and asking Matthews to play that next. It works, if only because there is no real framework expected for him to fit into.
Josh Matthews has a deep, rich, voice that serves each song well but one shouldn’t expect much in range. Imagine Brad Roberts of Crash Test Dummies, and you’d be on the right track. His voice gives each line and section a weight that turns otherwise silly lines into romantic confessions if only because it makes you wonder “how can I not take that voice seriously?” One such line is in the song “Yolanda” where he croons “I would not die if you weren’t here with me, but if I did die, I’d want to go with you”.
There are other little touches to let the listener know that it is not just the finished product to be considered art here, but the creative process. On the track “Voicemail” you hear the voices of a mother and daughter, as they talk about how happy the mother is to be a mother, which then segues into a spoken word performance of sorts before the song just ends. There are many spoken word sections on Co-Patriot. Josh Matthews is clearly influenced by the likes of Gil Scott-Heron and others.
While listening to Co-Patriot, I kept expecting to hear the Twin Peaks theme as a bonus track. That isn’t a slight at all, I love Twin Peaks, and that song would fit smoothly in with what he does, and while others claim themselves to be “folk” Josh Matthews truly, and effectively blends enough staples of the genre; twangy acoustic guitar, heavy bass drums and emotion filled lyrics, with newer elements that keep you on your toes. It took a few listens to for Co-Patriot to grow on me, because even there was an expectation for what I was going to hear. I had to get past that, as I’m sure many people will, but if you do there is a pleasant surprise within those 16 songs.
Worth A Listen: A Good Life, I’m A Fool, Yolanda
Co-Patriot available April 29th