Sings His Sad Heart

by: Matt Nathanson

Matt Nathanson fell in love, broke up, and wrote a solid album about it. That's the basic impression he leaves you with on his hooky if heartbroken 11th studio album, 2018's Sings His Sad Heart. Whether a recent wound or the inflammation of an old injury, the romantic longing at the core of Sings His Sad Heart has been a staple for the California singer/songwriter ever since his breakout 2008 hit "Come on Get Higher." But whereas that song found Nathanson willfully begging his paramour to pull him down hard and drown him in love, here, as on the '60s girl group-style anthem "Gimme Your Love," he is "swimming in shallow water, trying to forget it all." From the opening rising action of "Mine," in which a text message brings his heartbreak to the fore, to the closing "Sadness," in which he sums up his despair with a call back to "Come on Get Higher" singing "You Gotta Get Low to Get High," Sings His Sad Heart plays like a cinematic concept album detailing the arc of a relationship gone awry. Joining him on this somber journey are longtime producer/collaborator Amir Salem, Adam Pallin, and studio veteran Butch Walker. Together they strike a pleasing balance between songs of acoustic ennui and more fleshed-out electric guitar, keyboard, and percussion-heavy productions. Tracks like the kinetic hand clapper "Best Drugs," the buoyant "Long Distance Runner," and the aforementioned "Gimme Love," display Nathanson's gift for catchy tunes shot through with melancholic longing. Lyrically, he has a knack for picking out the mundane details and social dynamics of a relationship that paint a vivid and relatable picture. A sister texts him an update on his ex's life on "Mine," while a brother's borrowed Cadillac offers a crazy night of romantic bonding on "Different Beds." He even proffers up that his ex's new lover probably "looks better with his shirt off" on "Way Way Back," and then walks it back with the pained dig "but can he sing?" If heartbreak is at the core of many of Nathanson's songs, thankfully he finds the revelatory pop lesson to be learned. As he sings on "Different Beds," "Sometimes the things you love don't love you back." ~ Matt Collar

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