There are a lot of ways that artists express themselves in music, whether it be through their lyrics, the instrumentation or even the production of a record itself. Music exists to express all of the emotions for which there no words, and that isn’t limited to one specific aspect of a song over another. In his debut record Legacy, country singer Matt Westin uses all of the outlets listed above and even steps into postmodern territory a couple of times in getting his point across to the listeners.
It’s not much of a surprise that there’s as much buzz in the indie and mainstream music communities over Westin at the moment, who clearly stands head and shoulders above any of the other country “stars” to emerge in the last five years at least. For me, once I listened to the first half of Legacy, I instantly found what I believe to be the secret to his success.
Arrangement-wise, Legacy isn’t your standard country album. Yes, we do start off with a brooding power ballad in the emotionally charged “You Leave Me No Choice,” but unlike most lead-off country songs, whiskey-drenched backstabbing and plastic patriotism aren’t the themes that Matt Westin is looking to explore (and ultimately use to set the tone for the record we’re about to listen to). Instead, Westin goes full blown introspective, turning a glaring, judgmental eye on himself and his own actions in life, and how it’s led him to this fork in the road with a woman he’s desperately in love with. The passion in his heart is evident with every yearning, soulful dispatch of lyrics, and the tension only increases as the song presses into its anthemic chorus.
“Don’t Feel the Rain” follows it not with another slab of intense riffage but with a delicate strum of an acoustic guitar. Could it be that Matt Westin isn’t concerned with stereotyping and playing down to his audience and genuinely wants to get into deeper territory than his contemporaries are comfortable with? Yes, that does appear to be the case.
“Good Time” and the fun-loving “Our Redneck of the Woods” are also a couple of unpredictably sweet, calculated compositions that aren’t content to rehash anything. There’s no looking into the rearview mirror with Westin, and that doesn’t just turn me on as a critic, it straight up inspires me as a country music fan. Just inside of one half of a record, he’s nailed down my attention and gotten me feeling optimistic about what could be waiting around the next winding bend. For my money, I can’t think of anyone who has got more lively, animated energy in this genre than he does right now, not to mention the legions of indie fans he’s alluring over to the scene thanks to his charmingly accessible crossover ability into both the mainstream rock and pop music sound. Last year’s CMA winners should definitely be looking over their shoulders right now because there is no debating that Matt Westin is gaining on them like an out of control wildfire.
Buy Legacy on I-TUNES
-review by Jodi Marxbury