It's been six years since San Diego singer-songwriter Terry Matsuoka released his debut album. That's a long time between releases, but Matsuoka at least has the decency to reward his fans for the wait with an album full of strong songs and solid playing.
Those who have seen him perform around town are in for a treat. While Matsuoka often (perhaps usually) plays as a solo act with acoustic guitar to accompany his singing, he has a fuller sound here on his second album.
Matsuoka used his studio and his own multitude of instruments (bass, keyboards, drums) to come up with a virtual band. "You'd Be Surprised" (the best song on the CD) appears twice both as an acoustic song and with the full virtual band, providing an interesting contrast in sounds.
The verdict? Matsuoka's singing has a purity to it, and perhaps a lack of heft that might be better suited to the more sparse arrangement.
More surprises await: On "Sour Cream & Chives" he introduces some hip hop elements that provide a fun edge, while "Beyond" has some pretty heavy electric guitar and an alt rock groove.
Throughout, his songwriting is interesting enough ("El Cajon," "Penny Cup" and "There Goes My Baby" all have decadently sticky pop hooks), and the echo effect on his voice adds enough oomph to the full-band tracks to ensure that the album never fails to charm.
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