In what could be one of the year's dragged out album debuts, Matt White's long-awaited debut, which was set to drop in March instead found itself dropped all the way to September 23, getting buried behind All Time Low and Treaty of Paris. Matt White should be known to fans of the CW hit show 'One Tree Hill' or by his send-up to Billy Joel's 'Uptown Girl,' 'New York Girls.' His much awaited debut, 'Best Days' seems to have fallen short of expectations, basically shaving the track list to a mere ten tracks and clocks well under 40 minutes, an unacceptable length for a singer-songwriter of Matt' s capability.
The album gets off to a bad foot with the rather weak 'Play.' This is not the song he should have started with...the title track would have been a far much better choice with the intricate melody and the dreamy lyrical style Matt brings forth. You almost want to swim in it and is the quintessentual love song. But the album does not pick up full steam until the very powerful 'A Moment Of Weakness.' The song begins with the melancholy strings and acoustic guitars and tells the story that you have heard a million times or well at least see on TV; the scene where the begging boyfriend begs to his girlfriend to forgive him one last time and to give him one last chance. This song is perfect for at least 9 or 10 shows on ABC, The CW, and FOX.
'Love' is clocked under 3 minutes but its airy nature waxing poetic about exactly what the song title is. But the best song hands down is the bombastic and loud 'New York Girls.' The song has a Billy Joel 'Uptown Girl' feel and Matt delivers the song in a wonderful fashion. 'Wait For Love' is another storybook introspective on love with a lot of metaphors stuck in the song but the song really hits in the refrain 'I'll wait for love/I'll wait for you." The song has a relatable charm to it. And the harmonica solo is again another send-up to Billy Joel. The song ends with the melody-strong 'Anybody Else' and the reflective 'Just What I'm Looking For.' There is an eleventh track, 'Paradise' that wasnt available to this reviewer, an Urge subscriber.
So yes, the album's material shows promise and is very good, but the sub-40 minute track time is unacceptable for a talent like Matt and leaves you hanging and wanting more, in the form of at least 3 more track, 5 tops.. Matt White is a very promising songwriter, much like Billy Joel when he first started out. So dare I say, White if given time and proper care by his label could become the current generation's answer to the music legend. Only difference is Matt has chosen to use acoustic guitars as his preferred choice of instrument whereas Joel was a master at the piano. In fact, the melodies in 'Best Days' really smell of what Billy Joel would do...many singer-songwriters fall victim to becoming vanilla but White manages to combine his slightly offbeat but very smart songwriting with various melodies to keep the listener engaged. 'New York Girls' is a definite send-up to Billy Joel's equally bombastic 'Uptown Girl.' 'A Moment of Weakness' shows power without being overwhelming and Matt obviously can get the ladies swooning with songs like 'Best Days' and poppy and airy 'Love.' Such songs almost remind you of Elton John at his height, who knew how to get into your heart and at the same time put you in a serene calm.
But in the end, the unnecessary delay of the album release, the weak start with 'Play' and the injustice of having an album get clocked under 40 minutes lose decimal points for 'Best Days.' Hopefully Matt comes out with something even stronger and this time, make sure his producers don't go knocking off tracks and clock it under 40 minutes again? There's no reason why music acts should put out albums clocked under 40 minutes, especially singer-songwriters unless every song is intended for play on TV and radio and in Matt's case, there is 3 or 4 songs that can do that. Outside of the three black eyes the album gets, Matt White to me is definitely someone to watch for this year and definitely in 2008.
Name: "Best Days"
Release Date: September 18, 2007
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 (for the rather weak opening track, long album release delay, and having it clocked under 40 minutes)
Alan Ho is the chief head of Musiqtone. You can reach him at email@example.com