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Matt & Toby - Matt & Toby Album Cover

Matt & Toby - Matt & Toby

Reviewed by
6.5
Matt & TobyMatt & Toby
Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Release Date: November 20, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Matthew Carter and Toby Morrell have been screaming into mics for the last 11 years since Emery formed back in 2001. However, the two have always had a softer side. You know the songs I’m talking about: “What Makes A Man A Man,” “Fix Me,” “Thoughtlife,” and of course, that heartbreaking acoustic version of “The Ponytail Parades.” Clearly, there’s a soft side to both to them, albeit being well-known for the chaotic nature of Emery.

And then something I never would have thought possible happened – the two got together as Matt & Toby to make their own album, also titled Matt & Toby. Lead single “Life of the Party” would lead us to think the album has an upbeat, guy on an acoustic guitar in the back of a party feel, but there’s more to this than that. The record is kind of half mid-tempo acoustic songs mixed with half worship-orientated songs. I know, I know – this will immediately isolate the fan base, right? But really, it shouldn’t. Thrice’s Dustin Kensure did a fantastic job of just this earlier this year, with The Modern Post’s Grace Alone. Think of Matt & Toby as just that – two beloved frontman creating a record that is meant for worship, but that can also be enjoyed simply for their talent and incredible voices.

The guys actually incorporate a variety of sounds and instruments into these ten songs. “Oh No” unites a tender violin with equally delicate guitar strums to create a poignant cut of feeling overwhelmed with disappointment. On the other hand, the following “What Plays In My Head” goes back-and-forth from being fast-paced throughout the beginning, buoyed by quick guitar strums, to suddenly slowing down and then picking back up again. The musicianship of the two really shines throughout moments like this, as the two change tempos seamlessly throughout the song.

While the first half the record is incredibly enjoyable for fans of Emery’s softer material, the second half falls short in comparison. It’s pretty much the worship record B-side to the first few songs. Both “Take Me Oh Lord In Thy Hands” and “Sunday Morning, February 12th” are pretty much what you’d expect from standard worship music: an acoustic guitar and mesmerizing vocal delivery – the tracks use simplicity as their weapon. The final two songs are similar to these, only the final “The Last One” weaves in a narrative that will surely have you pressing repeat, being the most memorable of the worship songs. The song has a country vibe, using only a soft guitar to tell a lengthy, five-minute story of love and religion, making the song as tender as gets here due to the final thirty seconds.

Nevertheless, embedded within the second half of the record – the worship half of the album, so to speak – comes the record’s gem: “Prodigal Sons and Daughters.” When I saw the song title and first heard the guitars, I expected another traditional worship song. However, then the groovy synth starts to kick in, and then it all changes. Out of nowhere, the song becomes a massive almost dance-party-like anthem, as the words “We like to dance / And we like to sing” kick off a huge pop song – yes, pop song. The crazy thing about the song is the way it fits in the middle of a worship record – it literally comes out nowhere. It’s easily the highlight of the record, showcasing yet another side of the two men.

Clearly, Matt & Toby isn’t for everyone. Yet, regardless of one’s religion, there are songs here for everyone. The first few songs, as well as “Prodigal Sons and Daughters” and “The Last One” will appeal to any fan of Emery’s softer side. So, while some of the worship songs get a little repetitive due to similar structure, Matt & Toby is a commendable debut effort for Carter and Morrell, deserving an applause for the two trying going down a path completely unlike Emery.

6.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 42
03:11 AM on 11/20/12
#2
jakeisthebest
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Are you a big fan of Emery? If so, the first sentence of this review is shocking.
07:37 AM on 11/20/12
#3
Ryan Gardner
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Are you a big fan of Emery? If so, the first sentence of this review is shocking.
They've both been in the band since 01, which is why I said that.
07:48 AM on 11/20/12
#4
RabidNewz
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Rating is lower than I would expect based on the review itself.
07:55 AM on 11/20/12
#5
Ryan Gardner
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Rating is lower than I would expect based on the review itself.
The second half of the record - aside from "Prodigal Sons and Daughters" - is just super monotone, which lowered it a lot for me
08:23 AM on 11/20/12
#6
theherox
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solid review. sounds about right. definitely wasn't expecting a great album
08:58 AM on 11/20/12
#7
jasonisasleep
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Emery is one of my favorite bands and has been since The Weak's End came out. Not only that, but Toby has one of my favorite voices in music hands down. I love this album for showcasing a different side of these 2 as song writers, and having a different feel from most Emery stuff. It is a nice surprise while waiting on another Emery release.
09:29 AM on 11/20/12
#8
xtbs7645x
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The thing I always liked about Emery, is that the religious topics were always subtle.. never overbearing. This might be too much for me, but I'll give it a go anyways. The samples sounds promising. A little off topic, but I hope Emery take a few steps backwards.. wasn't huge on their last album. Also, I miss Devin!! hopefully he makes an appearance.
09:30 AM on 11/20/12
#9
PaperLantern
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Are you a big fan of Emery? If so, the first sentence of this review is shocking.
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I don't see a problem with it.
10:18 AM on 11/20/12
RabidNewz
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The second half of the record - aside from "Prodigal Sons and Daughters" - is just super monotone, which lowered it a lot for me

Huh. Just didn't get that vibe from how it's described in the review.
10:21 AM on 11/20/12
ibanez966
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Quote:
I know, I know – this will immediately isolate the fan base, right? But really, it shouldn’t. Thrice’s Dustin Kensure did a fantastic job of just this earlier this year, with The Modern Post’s Grace Alone.

But Dustin did isolate a lot of the fan base with his music for that bigoted church..
10:37 AM on 11/20/12
XenoAbe
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The thing I always liked about Emery, is that the religious topics were always subtle.. never overbearing. This might be too much for me, but I'll give it a go anyways. The samples sounds promising. A little off topic, but I hope Emery take a few steps backwards.. wasn't huge on their last album. Also, I miss Devin!! hopefully he makes an appearance.
Maybe not akin to worship lyrics, but the religious topics were never subtle.
10:37 AM on 11/20/12
XenoAbe
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But Dustin did isolate a lot of the fan base with his music for that bigoted church..
Just curious, but what makes you call them bigoted?
10:45 AM on 11/20/12
ibanez966
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Just curious, but what makes you call them bigoted?
The founder Mark Driscoll has very sexist and controversial opinions about women and their roles in life and this influences the church. If you google you'll find some articles about it (some even from Christian blogs).
10:49 AM on 11/20/12
XenoAbe
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The founder Mark Driscoll has very sexist and controversial opinions about women and their roles in life and this influences the church. If you google you'll find some articles about it (some even from Christian blogs).
I've actually attended that church and am a fan of some of the things Mark preaches. I do agree his views on women are off though.

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