A reissue and wider distribution puts singer/songwriter's debut in front of a whole new audience.

On his full-length debut, modestly titled "Songs We Sing," singer/songwriter Matt Costa channels the spirit of the 1960s. It's an era that has influenced Costa's music immensely and he's more than happy to build on that nostalgia.

Last week he contributed his own slice of alt.country/folk music history when "Songs We Sing" debuted on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart at No. 8.

Originally independently released by No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont’s Venerable Media label, the album was recently reissued with four new tracks by Brushfire Recordings (distributed by Universal). It was that added push that Costa needed in order to get his music to the masses.

"Before, it was just small distribution [via] the Internet and local shops," Costa tells Billboard.com. "I wanted to put my best foot forward when I had wider distribution and had a chance to re-release it, so we put a couple of new songs on the [album]. I'd been evolving as an artist, I had the recordings and I felt like it completed the picture a little more."

As a musician, the 23-year-old notes that his appreciation of contemporary bands like Travis and Belle & Sebastian make up his musical diversity, but he is largely influenced by artists like Donovan, Van Morrison and the Lovin' Spoonful, whose heydays came long before he was even born.

"The songs from the '60s have catchy melodies, but there's something there that pulls at your emotions. To me that's what the music was about, and I try to bring a more contemporary take on that sort of vibe," Costa says. "You can't help but be who you are, and where you're from just kinda comes through naturally if what you're doing is honest and pure. I'm just singing about the things around me and the songs that inspire me."

Costa admits that his retro sound may be unfamiliar territory to many of his fans who are his age or younger.

"A lot of people know 'Mellow Yellow' or 'Brown Eyed Girl' or something like that. They know the standard songs," he says. "But I make a point to tell people about [other '60s music] and hopefully turn them onto it."

Although steeped in the melodies of a decade that was ruled by vinyl, Costa has no qualms about embracing digital technology.

"I did a bonus track for iTunes, then everyone can get their hands on it," he says. "I'm not opposed to people who like a song and download it. I've always been a fan of that because if there's a band I like and I can get a download, I'll put it in my car and the next time I'm in a record store that's going to be the first record that I think of."

Costa is currently on a tour that includes solo acoustic performances, "full band" gigs and opening slots for Guster.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print