‘Better Than That’ is Matt Stell’s highly-anticipated first EP, an 8-song collection that showcases his talents as both a vocalist and songwriter. Produced by Stell himself, alongside Ash Bowers, the new material has country radio-ready production that gives the EP a fresh, modern feel.
Most will know Matt for his smash-hit, ‘Prayed For You’, which features on this EP. This song is part of the new era of boyfriend-country, and it’s no wonder why it was such a big hit. The song has relatable and tender lyrics, combined with a catchy chorus and slick production.
The second single on the EP ‘Everywhere But On’ is fast becoming a success, currently sitting in the Top 5 on Mediabase. The song explores how Stell has struggled to move ‘on’ from a lost love:
“I could add another push pin to the map
But that don’t stop me from missin’ you or lookin’ back
Guess there’s just one place I haven’t gone
I’ve moved everywhere but on”
I love this track, as it’s a unique take on a break-up song. The instrumentation also gives it a heavy and emotional backing that pairs wonderfully with Stell’s soulful voice.
The modern country influence is best heard on ‘If I Was a Bar’. A really infectious, bar-room drinking song that would be a great addition to country radio playlists in the US and UK.
The strongest song on the EP is ‘Sadie’:
“S-S-Sadie, I know that you’ve been hurtin’ lately
But you know that I got you, girl
I’d start a riot for you”
This track uses a multitude of instruments that give the song a heavier rock edge, which sets it apart from rest of the EP. However, it still flows well in this sequencing of the project, explores a desire to be with someone which is a recurring theme here.
‘Better Than That’ also taps into the desire to be with someone off-the-market. Written by Joe Fox, Phil Barton and Stell, the lyrics are highly descriptive and capture some thought-provoking imagery of a bar setting. You can feel the frustration in the passion of Stell’s delivery.
Towards the end of this EP, we begin to get a conclusion to the journey, with the last two songs exploring his future with a new lover. ‘Chase it Down’ lets the electric guitars loose, giving it a gritty, country-rock inspired sound.
‘Look At Me Now’ is such a touching song, that is an emotional love-song done extremely well. Written by Joe Fox, Seth Ennis and Thomas Finchum, the lyrics explore Stell breaking down in tears on his wedding day; a male take that comes across as very open and heartfelt. There’s a nice traditional feel, and it’s a superb end to the EP.
Well worth a listen; ‘Better Than That’ showcases Stell as one of the best emerging male vocalists.