Matt Bonner – Signs of Passing

Matt Bonner
Signs of Passing

Matt Bonner is totally and absolutely out of place in today’s indie music world – in a good way. On his latest full-length release, Signs of Passing, he proves himself a mature and confident artist, charging ahead with highly polished music seemingly influenced by everything from hip hop to Sting to Everlast. That said, despite occasionally obvious influences, Bonner’s music remains unique and difficult to categorize in a few short words.
Just when I was ready to him shelve him under “adult contemporary” (mainly due to the uncanny similarity between his voice and Sting’s, especially in the higher octaves), Bonner threw me with clever pseudo-raps on “Tripwire” and “Turning of the Stone,” a highly-charged track that seems to parody everything from international politics to the perils of the music industry. The next track,”Gate,” is an abrupt, 180-degree switch into acoustic guitars and drifting vocals.
Unfortunately, the same flexibility and versatility that impresses me also makes Signs of Passing a somewhat disjointed listen. The shocking jumps between reflective, melodic songs and snarky, sarcastic rants can be difficult for a listener to make. Bonner excels at both styles of music, but they don’t necessarily sit well together on the same disc; instead of an album with 12 disparate tracks, Bonner may have been better to release a shorter, tighter disc that showcased only his mellower compositions, for example. Additionally, some of the tracks on this album sound a little dated and might have been more groundbreaking five years ago than they are now.
Petty criticisms aside, Bonner is an incredibly talented and intensely creative individual (he’s also had some novels and other literary works published), and the obvious enthusiasm he has for his music shines through. When it comes to indie pop, he is in a league of his own.