Review and Photos  by Kenny Bieber

September 17, 2020

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Maintaining a long-standing musical career can be a challenging task. What can be considered even more challenging is being able to create anticipation and progress as artistically as well. Thankfully for NJ-based singer-songwriter Matt Cook, he more than rises to the occasion on his long-awaited fifth full-length aptly-titled #AlbumNumber5Sessions. The record builds upon Cook’s singer-songwriter influences while expanding both his musical and lyrical palette all delivered with soul, sincerity and a with a personal touch all his own. One of the most notable progressions for this record is Cook’s utilization of electronic music coupled with elements of his signature pop, folk and soul.

This can be evidenced by early single “Missteps” a glossy and moody synth-laden number that features some of Cook’s most vulnerable vocal performances alongside some of his richest arrangements thus far. Other tracks that showcase the record’s ambitious scope include the warm indie folk of “Betterment” which utilizes Cook’s trademark harmonies to stirring effect and the uplifting piano pop of “Reap a Harvest” with it’s inclusion of gospel and soul making it an immediate and vibrant highlight on the album. Lyrically as well, Cook’s songwriting delves deeper into rawer emotions and feelings. This can be found most notably on tracks such as “The Voice” a haunting ballad about desire and connection and “Last” which stands as one of his most endearing and moving romantic numbers in his already vast catalog.

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Performance-wise, Cook approaches the material with an understated grace yet intimacy which helps to create space and mood for each song to fully become whole and resonate with the listener. This time around, there’s a newfound musical exuberance and vitality that characterizes the songs on #AlbumNumber5Sessions. There’s a jaunty energy to the lush and warm piano-driven number “Too Much” that allows it to wash over listeners and this sense of exploration carries on throughout the record.

The arrangements on #AlbumNumber5Sessions highlight Cook’s sonic progression as they contain a sense of texture and atmosphere that allows each number to feel cohesive and yet uniquely it’s own. The true scale of the record’s ambitions can be heard on stunning closer “Tell Her” which builds from an elegant ballad to a choir-led orchestral number that manages to feel grand yet intimate all at once. The collocations on Number 5 Sessions are also skillfully arranged and orchestrated, such stand-outs include fellow NJ singer-songwriter SOF on track “Reap A Harvest” and Cook’s recurring collaborators Bryan Hansen along with local musical stalwarts such as Brian Erickson, Levy Okun and Deirdre Forrest who all contribute vocals to the epic closer “Tell Her.” All of these collaborations add an integral element to the proceedings and enhance the chosen material more than effectively.

Creating an honest body of work as an artist can be considered quite the task especially in this day and age. With the release of his latest LP, #AlbumNumber5Sessions, local singer-songwriter Matt Cook has crafted a well-rounded and rich showcase for his artistic progression while expanding into exciting new territory. Five albums in it’d be very easy to rest on one’s laurels but thankfully here, Cook has taken this occasion to forge new musical ground and further establish his distinctive voice as a writer and performer. Overall #AlbumNumber5Sessions establishes itself as Cook’s most mature, accomplished and personal body of work to date. To paraphrase the artist himself, Let’s hope it won’t be his last.

Top Tracks: “Missteps,” “Betterment,” “Tell her,” “Reap A Harvest,” “Too Much,”  and “Last”

Listen to #AlbumNumber5Sessions

#AlbumNumber5Sessions Listening Party

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Asbury Park Vibes is a media publication dedicated to shining a light on the live music scene, as well as promoting the artists we love! We strive to provide show reviews, photographs, and artist stories that bring fans and musicians closer together.

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