Matt Costa charms Starlight crowd

unchy acoustic guitar chords are what define Matt Costa’s musical style. The songwriter’s discography boasts hit songs such as “Sunshine” and “Oh Mr. Pitiful”, which were featured in the 2009 film I Love You, Man starring Paul Rudd.

Matt Costa’s live show on Aug. 25 at the Starlight Lounge in Waterloo revealed to many a prolific singer-songwriter as well as a man with some serious folk guitar chops.

The storytelling, Arlo Guthrie-like troubadour in Costa shone through while he played “Never Looking Back” from his first EP.  Perhaps inspired by his interview with The Cord before the show, he broke from singing the song to elaborate on the inspiration behind it, namely the burning of an old bridge in his former home of Sacramento, California.

It was both a playful stretch of storytelling and a moment of naked honesty. The chatter in the bar during these moments was a shame, but those who came in search of an intimate artist-to-audience experience got what they paid for.

Hailing from the state of California and in the midst of one of a handful of world tours, Costa travels with only two guitars, a stompbox and little else. Yet with the help of an alternate microphone full of reverb and his harmonica, he creates as full a sound as any.

Costa’s compulsive writing habits have yielded three successful records and five EPs along with 80 new tunes still trying to find their way onto an LP.

His last full-length release was 2010’s “Mobile Chateau”, which acts as a realization of a sound he has been pursuing for some time.  With the buried nuances of a Beach Boys record and a melodic field that dogs The Beatles like a flea, it could be Costa’s best work.

“Mobile Chateau” is a standout record because it manages to challenge The Beatles and the Beach Boys without imitating them.

It has a 60s throwback sound to it without dooming itself to novelty status, as many records of that stripe tend to do, simply making you want to listen to the actual music being channeled.

Similar albums don’t hold water, while Costa’s “Mobile Chateau” is brimming.

Costa credits the successful revival of that sound to his new band, in which every instrument and every voice sounds entirely effortless. It sounds as if the music was already there and all they had to do was speak its language.

Aside from a few tuning mishaps and the talkers at the bar, his appearance at Starlight was impressive as well.

From Waterloo, Costa moves on to two sold out shows at The Carleton in Halifax and come Sept. 19 he will have yet another world tour under his belt. If all goes as planned, a new record should follow.