Chicago based folk/rock artist, Matthew Santos is best known to the general public for his huge Grammy-nominated hit, “Superstar” on which he collaborated with rapper, Lupe Fiasco. He has been performing as a one-man band around North America and Europe, using beat-boxing, looping and other effects. “Into the Further”, his seventh official release (2nd June, 2015), is a collaboration with other musicians, however. All songs are written by Santos, and he also supplies the lead vocals and shows his mastery of the guitar, with strings and horns augmenting this soul/jazz outing.
With a list of celebrity fans beguiled by his expressive voice, it’s easy to see why they are so enthusiastic. You get your money’s worth here with 14 tracks, the first two of which are mostly instrumental and get us in the mood. This band of musicians takes a tune and dances with it. Sometimes complex, sometimes simple, you’re never sure where it’s going to go. Using his voice like another instrument, Santos is fluid, smooth and soulful.
Emma Dayhuff on upright bass is particularly impressive, lending subtle, jazz lines to the mix. Also impressive is Jon Deitemyer on drums, especially on “It All Works Out” and “And Now The Leap”. Moods swing from frenetic, complex instrumentation to gentle acoustic dreaminess. “Second Chances” is the most experimental. “Just to See You (Take 2)” is a piano-only instrumental, unlike anything else on the album. Sounding like a film score, it is refreshing in its simplicity.
Some tracks need a few plays to stick but then you catch their wave and get into their rhythm. In fact, you’ll hear something different each time you play the album. These compositions do not take the quickest route from A to Z and rely on much more than simply banging out a melody. Where some artists’ work sometimes sounds a bit calculated, this feels like an organic process amongst like-minded musicians.