Thursday, November 03, 2022

‘Mother’ Is MATT MALTESE At His Heartfelt, Melancholic Best

The town of Reading has produced a surprising share of cultural icons: Ricky Gervais, Kate Winslet, even CBeebies icon Mr. Tumble

The latest in this illustrious line is 27-year-old singer-songwriter Matt Maltese, whose decision to sell vinyl and move to Camden with the proceeds is a stroke of luck for lovers of impeccable songwriting.  

On his new single, ‘Mother,’ released on Nettwerk on 28th October, Maltese crafts a touching lament to lost love, but chooses a unique lens through which to view it. 

As its title suggests, the song views a breakup from the perspective of a son consoling his mother, who has seemingly developed a bond with the now-departed ex. It therefore manages to explore both romantic and maternal relationships simultaneously, which each providing an insight into the other. 

With such a broad emotional palette in play, the listener might anticipate Maltese struggling to fit it all into a three-minute single. As a result, it’s all the more satisfying when he doesn’t; his use of existential lines that incorporate these different forms of love (“If your lungs stop, you die / If you lose love, that’s life”) give the track an accessibility that transcends the specific family relationship it depicts. This emotional intricacy is at the forefront of contemporary songwriting, with other artists like Aldous Harding and Kevin Morby showing a similar knack for conveying complex feelings. 

In terms of the music itself, Maltese has constructed a song that gradually bleeds out with increasing intensity, beginning with a contemplative piano backing and ending with a wall of kaleidoscopic chamber pop. Backing vocalists, a driving drumbeat and dreamlike electric guitar add lush texture to the song’s closing bars, with their healing affirmation that the titular mother will “learn to love again” along with her son. This is songwriting as a form of collective therapy, a reckoning with loss that achieves a reclamation of shared experience. In a culture in which self-awareness and emotional health are more vital than ever, Matt Maltese may well have a talent we’ve been waiting for.

Tom Spencer

Image: 'Mother' Official Single Cover

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