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  • Jonathan Widran


Matt Shapiro’s burgeoning success as an indie artist is bound to lift the spirits of manic expressives who follow mainstream paths out of duty, obligation or people pleasing but who long to break free and find success being who the artist they were meant to be.

One of the fascinating scenes of the Canadian born, NYC based synth pop/rock singer-songwriter’s life finds him at university studying law. He’d get in the car at night and drive around Montreal singing himself hoarse for hours on end. “It was a side of me that nobody knew and yet the one thing that made me feel connected and alive.” His latest translation of that raw passion into compelling and soulful songs that keep growing on you is his new EP Fade In.

Truth be told, while the rumbling beats and his desperate voice on the opening track “Rockaway Girl” are fascinating, the droning, distorted synth organ throughout are a bit off putting and distract from the obvious emotion. Toning those down on “Addict,” the album’s second and most compelling cut, helps considerably, allowing us to share in his cool, slyly expressed obsession. “Is There Something Going On?” seems to eliminate the outer fuzz (but not the trippy vocal distortion) entirely for a ballad whose sense of dreamlike floating belies the narrative of infidelity.

The buzz fuzz and intense swirl of vocal passion and distortion returns on the EP’s most “out there” track, “Johnny,” an offbeat character study whose hook is “they got him in the ocean.” Shapiro’s soaring vocals here are like the ethereal eighth wonder of the world.

A haunting, heavily produced song of abiding promise, “Water’s Edge” can best be described as soulful synth-pop gospel, while the seductive, deep soul closing ballad “Genevieve” is more compact and sonically organic, with one of Shapiro’s least treated (thus most heartfelt) vocals. If you haven’t watched the Shapiro “movie” yet, this EP is a great place to start your Fade In.

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