Sacred Hills EP is a short, sweet snapshot of the long and winding journey of a man named Matt Costa. The E.P. has four tracks; two unpolished (but superior) classics hidden in the middle surrounded on either end by more sing-along, bigger produced songs. In other words the intro/outro tracks are nice, but like a geode, the gems are in the middle.
The single and opener, “Good Times” is a large celebratory sound reminiscent of the The Beatles, with colorful horns and that happy folk-rock feel, but the lyrics are somber, speaking of a return to hard times…a return to truth, to “the man I once was.” Back to reality. Matt is clever here, offering an economically timely piece. Roundabout the second chorus you get this feeling of, “Aha! I see what you’re doing here!”
The second track, “Never Change”, is the stand-alone classic. It could have come from the past 80 years of music. The soundscape is reminiscent of Donovan or even an old Woody Guthrie ballad. Costa’s tired voice hinges on the feeling of a theme song or the ending credits to an old Western. It’s almost got a smirk to it though…actually the whole album does. While the album spins, especially during “Never Change,” you feel a satisfactory buzz and when it ends, you wish it hadn’t.
The title track is the other beauty. “Sacred Hills” takes you on quite a musical journey in an extremely short amount of time (the track weighs in at one minute, fourteen seconds). It ends almost upon it’s beginning. For that reason alone it falls short, but the Fleet Foxes inspired vocal trills are an impressive and mature jump for Costa, as are the lyrics. They paint a picture and show his power as a poetic songwriter.
Costa retreated to Glasgow, Scotland to make this album. He intentionally removed himself both musically and physically from where he started in Huntington Beach, California in 2003. The result is beautiful and mature. Existing Costa fans will find it equal parts pleasing and unfamiliar. The closer, “Loving You” hits you in the face with the album’s only true rock n’ roll song. The retro-euro-pop rhythm and the lively horns put a jump in your step that lasts long after the song ends.
I recall my times meeting Matt during the warmer months of 2006 when we were sharing whiskey and guitars, swapping songs in my coastal apartment. We had both worked for the same valet-parking company and were introduced by our boss, who consequently fired us and demanded we pursue music full-time. Our boss could see Matt’s potential. We all could, and in “Sacred Hills EP” he proudly displays his potential and prepares us for his self-titled full-length, slated for release in February 2013.
What we have here is a great album. If you’re reading this, good work Matt. Thank you for making music. Really inspired.
Marc Beauregard is an accomplished singer-songwriter, surfer, and environmental advocate who uses his voice to inspire communal change. Based in Los Angeles, Marc Beauregard is a global ambassador for SurfAid International, The Plastic Pollution Coalition, Rareform Upcycled Products, among others. He is currently working on a studio album with Producer Kevin McCormick (Jackson Browne, Melissa Etheridge, Brett Dennen) entitled “Unabbreviated,” due out this year. Marc and his trio play regularly in the southern half of California and have toured as far as Argentina and Hawaii. Look out for a west coast tour this year.