Columbia’s acoustic folk rock duo Prettier Than Matt have dropped their first record, “Play Pretty” and the results bode well for their future. Jessica Skinner and Jeff Pitts both take turns singing lead, although she gets the lion’s share of the duties here. The band set-up might draw comparisons with groups like She & Him, although Prettier Than Matt are definitely playing in a more traditional style of pop than that duo, which is in their favor. Skinner’s great voice reminds me of Alison Krauss or even a country-tinged Hayley Williams. The playing is professional and well-produced, a folky kind of acoustic rock, with spare percussion, if any, on some of the songs.
The songs themselves mostly deal with issues of failed relationships or lost loved ones and both singers surrender an emotional appeal in their lyrics. This is not to say this record is a downbeat affair; “The La La Song” is a sweetly sung, meta tune written about itself and the process of songwriting. And yes, in answer to the song’s request, I’m sure many will sing along due to Skinner’s catchy chorus. “All I Want is You”, a marriage proposal sung by Pitts, finds that place where acoustic rock and country meet and make folk. His voice and the feel of the song bring Steve Earle to my mind. An ’80s cover comes as no surprise from the two, and their rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” is both true to her and themselves. The string playing varies from simple, to fit the song, to nicely complex. There are really well-done solos to be found in “Nowhere to be Found” and “Miss You”, the latter of which makes me think Jeff must have been jamming to some acoustic Tesla songs somewhere along the line?
All in all, it’s a righteous debut and Columbia is lucky to have such a pair gracing us with their sounds. Looking forward to seeing them doing this material live!
Recommended for fans of: Tesla, Steve Earle, She and Him
This album can be found on itunes Play Pretty
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.