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Matt Costa finds his groove with “Mobile Chateau”

Courtney Eckerle | Friday, September 24, 2010

While Picasso had his blue and rose periods, singer/songwriter and musician Matt Costa is making his way through the decades with the tone of his third and latest album, “Mobile Chateau.”


His 40s and 50s influenced style, a mixture of pop, rock and blues is cast aside in favor of 70s psychedelic folk in his latest venture.


And if you are a fan of the late – 60s to 70s, the Mama’s and Papa’s type of music, be prepared to fall head over go-go boots for “Mobile Chateau.”


Just get any iPod dancing commercial fantasies out of your head. “Mr. Pitiful” from his second album was featured on one and was also in “I Love You, Man.” Costa, who has previously wooed listeners and critics alike with upbeat songs from his previous two albums, “Songs We Sing” and “Unfamiliar Faces”, has made a significant detour from his buoyant California campy folk- pop that made him a perfect fit at the king of mellow Jack Johnson’s record label, Brushfire Records. With this latest album he has managed to bridge that sound with a psychedelic flashback and make it work. The only unknown is if he will alienate his fan base, built up on a promise of light folksy crooning about sunshine and roses. The sound clearly and definitely detours in this latest album, almost as if the Beach Boys had suddenly morphed into Fairport Convention four years into their career. Not necessarily a bad thing — just be prepared. This is not the Matt Costa of old.


A Huntington Beach, Calif., native, Costa has always been compared to 60s folk legend Donovan with his finger picking guitar style, but never has it been so evident as on his latest venture. “Johnny’s Love of Majik” has the baiting tone of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” and its upbeat sound makes it probably the easiest transition from the era of his first two albums into the 70s influence he touts in “Mobile Chateau.”


Music videos for first singles tend to hint at the theme of the entire album, and “Witchcraft” is a psychedelic Doors-esque performance that could be on the Johnny Carson show. Instead of Costa’s usual vaudeville show such as his one-man band from “Mr. Pitiful” he’s crooning on a stage with a picture that makes it seem like he’s inside a blue lava lamp — except it’s double exposed under a disco ball.


The second single off the album is “The Season,” which has an echoing, haunting sound that stays upbeat, totally reminiscent of The Mama’s and the Papa’s style. “Drive” sounds like a track straight off of the “My Girl” soundtrack with a cute, catchy tinny piano opener. “Secret” definitely has a “Jersey Boys” love song feel, and Costa stated in an interview with Blackbook that it was the first song he wrote for the album, and it seems to show his transition from one decade of influences to the other.


“Mobile Chateau” is a great rainy day reflection album, but it remains to be seen if fans of his sunny albums will follow. On the flip side, it will probably succeed in drawing in new fans, as well as impressing critics with Costa’s versatility and growth.