Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Matt Corby at the Bowery Ballroom

Australian singer-songwriter Matt Corby was born in Oyster Bay, New South Wales, Australia, where he joined his school's stage band and choir. At age 16, Corby auditioned for the fifth season of Australian Idol, where he finished as runner-up. He began releasing independent EPs at age 19, then moved to London, England, in hopes of furthering a music career. In 2011, on his fourth of five consecutive EPs, he introduced a deeper rhythm and blues flavor to his folk roots, and his music started charting in Australia. Roughly a decade after his stint in Australian Idol, Corby's debut album, Telluric, will be released on March 11, 2016.

When Matt Corby first came to New York and performed at Joe's Pub four years ago, he performed solo, singing and finger-picking an acoustic guitar, briefly playing an electric guitar and for one song electronically looping his vocals. At the much larger Bowery Ballroom tonight, he brought a small band and committed himself further to exploring a throaty, bluesy sound. His thick dirty-blond hair and light beard made him look somewhat like Kurt Cobain clone or a California surfer, but once he opened his mouth to sing, he had to be taken seriously as a contemporary crooner. Surrounded by billowing dry-ice fog, the white stage lighting narrowly focused on Corby alone, he closed his eyes, snapped his fingers and looped his voice for a live multi-vocal-layered rendition of a recent single, the soft and airy "Monday." His musicians then joined him, but their accompaniment remained sparse so that Corby's vocal tricks could ride above and dominate. For the rest of the set, Corby barely spoke to the audience and seldom opened his eyes, as he dedicated himself to his singing, only occasionally playing guitar or flute. The band played light jazz and funk rhythms, to which Corby's soulful vocals stretched an impressive range from soprano to falsetto, gliding easily over the scales while emoting heavily. Before the 55-minute set was over, Corby covered Sam Cooke’s "A Change is Gonna Come," giving it his own twist rather than mirroring the original. Maybe that choice of cover revealed the inspiration for Corby's graduation from Australian folk to American soul sounds.

Visit Matt Corby at www.mattcorby.com.