Matthew Benedict has been playing music since the age of ten and it's really not all that surprising when you hear his music on Surrender. His guitar playing is often exceptional and I don’t think many people could deny the flourishing beauty of the notes and melodies he achieves with the instrument. On top of that his singing sometimes reminded me of Donovan and the songwriting reminiscent to old Cat Stevens songs and even traditional tunes.
In this day and age it’s harder than ever to make yourself known with an acoustic guitar and vocals just because of the overwhelming amount of music being released. Benedict is in the upper echelon of this community and while not reinventing the genre delivers it with a tenacity and passion very few are capable of.
He starts off with “Wide Eyes” which is a melancholy song and also happens to contain some of his more basic guitar playing. It’s still a very well written song but I was very happy to discover this wasn’t the only tone to the album. The album really starts to take off with “Wow” which just makes you say wow (please pardon the pun). I could enjoy this song just on the guitar picking alone which is phenomenal but the vocal melody is also great. Even though the melodies are enjoyable it's really the delivery that makes it work. Benedict sings with an enthusiasm you can’t fake.
Benedict follows “Wow” with “The Noblest Lion” which is on par in terms of guitar picking. I was reminded of The Tallest Man on Earth on this track. The song has more energy than most songs with percussion.
Benedict returns to beautiful melancholy on “Surrender” while “Don’t Follow Me” has enough rhythm that it makes for a perfectly suitable song you could swing your hips to. It is arguable but “Hey, I” might be the most gorgeous sounding track on the album. Between the lyrics and the sense of nostalgia it instills I listened to the song on repeat. When he sings, “I’m coming home” it could make a grown man cry. Make sure not to miss “Solace of Sound” which is bit whimsical and contains percussive elements that were quite effective.
Benedict possesses the rare ability to deliver nostalgia, melancholy and hope without seeming pretentious. If I had to describe this music in one word I would say “pure.” Benedict is like a vessel transmitting innate, primal emotions without having to manipulate sounds, use a computer to play virtual instruments or sample a thousand different artists. One day after the apocalypse after all the Macbooks are destroyed all the former EDM artists will have nothing left to do but gather around Benedict and listen to how emotionally resonant music sometimes requires the barest of essentials.
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