Matt Corby has been on my radar for years now. Having seen him perform only 1 time in NYC years ago, I had been itching for a chance to immerse myself in his voice ever since then. My lucky chance came along this past Wednesday at the intimate performance space inside Williamsburg’s Rough Trade.
To set the mood, opening act Julie Byrne’s smooth crooning vocals over lyrics that conjured images of long drives on the open road worked nicely with her counterparts that joined her onstage. It was a beautiful culmination of traditional folk music coupled with ambient, ethereal instrumentation and quite gorgeous violin. Julie’s presence was inherently calming and by her last song, she asked everyone to “be present” and enjoy the music, which everyone obliged.
But there was no mistaking who everyone was waiting to see. Having sold this show out months before in mere minutes, just the sight of Matt’s silhouette taking the stage was enough to launch the room into hysterics. Starting off with the acapella “Monday,” Matt’s powerful voice filled every inch of the space. Using his loop pedal, he was able to layer his vocals and snaps to construct the main beat, it was utter perfection, and it was only the first song. The rest of the night was an exhibition in artistic flawlessness. Every second of the show, from the older songs “Runaway,” and “Devil,” to the newer “Wrong Man,” and “Belly Side Up” were executed with acute precision. All of the years of touring have clearly paid off. Matt is a seasoned professional at this point in his career, and his band is also notably talented.
One of my favorite new songs, “Sooth Lady Wine” was even better live. This song in particular does a lot in terms of showing off Matt’s impressive range throughout the entirety of it. All through the verses Matt’s voice fluctuates from the highest highs and lowest lows, which I know quite a few singers would have trouble pulling off, but he makes it look effortless. The screams from the audience finally reached deafening levels when the first strums of “Brother” were played. One of Corby’s most popular songs, punctuated with the ever-so-catchy “ooohs” of the yodeling at the beginning and during the chorus, literally the entire crowd sang along.
Then, “Souls A’Fire” happened. This song. I can’t even explain how ridiculously great it sounded in this room. This is one of Corby’s older songs, but every time he sings it, it takes on a new life. Here we are treated to a gigantic helping of Matt’s guitar chops and they do not disappoint. The song itself is intrinsically sexy, and Matt sings is exactly how it demands to be sung – powerfully and dripping with emotion.
The show finally came to a close with a newer song entitled “Empires Attraction,” that showcased his wonderful songwriting ability, a lovely flute solo and has some fantastic, explosive moments near the end, plus tacked onto the end was something that I’m sure the crowd didn’t expect: a cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” It was so silent during this song you could hear pins dropping and hearts breaking in quick succession. This was the moment to break out the tissues and bask in the beauty of his God-given talent. It was so good even his guitar player turned around and shook his head during one of the vocal runs. Gratefully, the group of women stood behind me finally quieted down after Matt outright shushed them and allowed this gorgeous moment to happen.
Without a doubt, this show will go down in the Top 5 of my Favorite Shows of 2016. Matt Corby clearly is talented, and in my opinion, he has one of the best voices of our generation. He has been compared time and time over to Jeff Buckley, but from the direction of his newer music, I’d say he is defining his own sound – less folky, more R&B/jazz/rock influences that I absolutely loved. As a huge D’Angelo fan I couldn’t also help but hear his influence in the music as well. If all of the songs on his upcoming album, Telluric, sound as good as what he played at this show, this will without a doubt, be a contender for my Favorite Albums of 2016. Yes, I’m calling it this early. Let’s just thank our lucky stars he didn’t win Australian Idol and saw him shoehorned into some awful pop genre.
Belly Side Up
Do You No Harm
Trick of the Light
Sooth Lady Wine
Empires Attraction/A Change
Article: Lesley Keller