When I heard through the grapevine that a 19-year-old Matt someone is a new kid on the block breaking into the industry, Justin Bieber and One Direction instinctively came to mind. ‘Please not another preppy excuse for an album’, was my wish upon the heavens when I heard that this guy would be releasing his album soon. Thank goodness Matt Carstens turned my unfair preconceived expectation totally on its head with his debut offering 2D Heart, pouring his heart and soul into the world with a mature approach to love and life. The album was recorded and produced by George van der Spuy and Nicolai Roos at Kill City Blues in Cape Town.
Matt started writing songs from age 12 and spent about a year working on this debut offering, so it’s clear that music comes from a very natural place in his life. Every song on the album is individually crafted with a definite vision in sight and forms a beautiful unity as a whole. Inspirations have audibly been drawn from artists like Ed Sheeran, Of Monsters and Men, Mumford & Sons and Matthew Mole, but Matt succeeds in creating a distinct sound that will set him apart. He isn’t trying to be a copy of anyone, but uses techniques and traits from different artists – musically and lyrically – to enhance his own distinguishing qualities.
The opening track ‘Our Revolution’ is a strong start to what is a masterful album and has fast become one of my personal favourites off the record. On this track Matt creates a palate of different moods and whims and casually plays around with musical diversion, tempo changes and temperament shifts and sets the foundation to his consistently excellent vocal capabilities. Another stand out track is ‘Sinners & Stars’, the heaviest track on the album, that sees Matt exploring his rock edge with commanding vocals and heavier guitars and drum work. On the lighter side of things, tracks like ‘Scars’ and ‘Loves Like Fire’ showcases Matt’s romantic, more vulnerable side. It’s striking with how much ease Matt moves between different genres, but how he constantly keeps his own sound to the core of whatever musical gear he shifts into.
The lyrical skill illustrated on this album is what had me in even more awe than the compositions. I honestly had to dust my dictionary off a few times. Talking about verbal eloquence, go and look up the meaning for ‘Bisous’ and enjoy the most electronic, groovy track on the album with a clearer perspective of what the song is about. Matt truly has a way with words and manages to create vivid pictures in your mind about situations and stories he’s encountered. He makes you feel part of his journey and rethink similar things you’ve been through in your own life. It’s a rare skill to draw an audience in and make them identify with you in the way that Matt does. Even if he’s a young guy, Matt has a wise outlook that audiences will be able to relate to irrespective of their age.
Not all songs on the album are equally memorable, but no-one can doubt the strong mark Matt Carstens has made with his debut full-length album. He confidently flaunts his talents as songwriter, singer and musician and will leave you with a contented heart. If this is what Matt Carstens’s 2D Heart sounds like, I cannot wait for more experiences to fill his life, so that he can take us on a 3D or 4D ride sometime in future.