The singer/songwriter used to be a dying breed. Matt White might be able to add his name to the current generation that includes Howie Day, John Mayer and Gavin DeGraw. Hailing from New Jersey, Matt has music in his blood, with piano and violin-playing parents and a former jazz orchestra leader grandmother.
He studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music at age three and taught himself the guitar while attending the University of Wisconsin. After graduating college, he moved to New York where he played at Washington Square Park where he gained valuable experience playing and singing with street musicians every night. “That’s where I really learned my skills,” he says.
Inspired by 60s and 70s singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan and Nick Drake, Matt aimed to create lyrical stories that entertained and touched people. With his self-titled debut, he has succeeded in crafting a slight autobiographical album that represents his life from his childhood to the present. He defines his life as a series of ups and downs, and the title track expresses his biggest up — feeling happy about being able to make music with a real record contract from Geffen Records. The song is upbeat and high-spirited, which can pretty much describe the entire album.
From his ode to NY women in “New York Girls” to his proclamation of faithfulness and loyalty in “I’ll Be There,” Matt maintains a steady wave of pop tunes and catchy lyrics. Toward the end of the album, he slows down with ballad-like songs to emphasize his optimistic and passionate side.
“Wait For Love” is a simple, yet strong ballad about his one true love; the plain titled “Love” is a light-hearted and playful tune, sounding like something from Badly Drawn Boy. Matt steers clear from anything too depressing and sticks with lively melodies. The Black Crowes-esque songs “Play” and “Miracles” are very laid-back, creating a jolly feeling of the Christmas spirit in what, time-wise, should be summer.
Singer/songwriters have the stigma of being depressive (thank you Mr. Dylan), singing songs about death and gloom. Supporters would argue that these artists merely try to replicate life (which often is depressive). Matt, along with his contemporaries, goes in the opposite direction and tries to replicate the sunny side of life. With so much chaos in the world today, spirits should be livened, not destroyed. He is “Just What I’m Looking For” — like his song implies.