If I heard a musician say that they shared a birthplace with Otis Redding, Little Richard, and the Allman Brothers, I would think two things: 1) they’re probably quite talented, and 2) is there something in the water in Macon, Georgia?
Born and raised in Macon, Matthew Thomas Hope was immersed in a rich musical culture from a young age; at just 13, Hope got involved in the local music scene, and the rest is history. Spending much of his adolescence writing songs, the singer/songwriter’s next move was almost inevitable, and he left for Nashville shortly after his 18th birthday.
A seasoned guitar player, Hope’s multi-instrumental talent is put on full display in his original music. Delicate vocals and rhythmic acoustic guitar make up the body of his songs, with tasteful electric guitar licks sprinkled throughout; the end result sounds similar to what I’d imagine a country/Americana John Mayer song to be. Taking inspiration from the trials and tribulations of his life, Hope has created a sound that is authentic and distinctly his own.
On June 25th, Hope released his sophomore project, Love of Mine. The two-song EP features “Cora”, and the title track “Love of Mine.” Inspired by the feelings of love and loss Hope dealt with after the death of a close friend, the two tracks are raw, emotional, and relatable. Born out of a conversation he had with the same friend many years ago, the songs are a testament to the ways in which Hope uses music to escape from darkness.
Taking a different, less produced approach than Hope’s debut single, “I’d Go Anywhere”, Love of Mine emphasizes the beauty of intimate instrumental sounds. Simplicity and sophistication are present all throughout the pair of songs, stemming from Hope’s many years of songwriting.
Recorded before the world stopped turning, the EP is the product of small but mighty studio sessions.
“Cora” is a laid-back, easy listen of a song, with an upbeat and optimistic sound. The harmonies in the chorus highlight the longing feeling of the lyrics. An unrequited love song, the bright quality is deceptive but only adds depth. “Love of Mine” is more of a ballad, led by Hope’s gentle voice and slide-guitar swells. Almost hypnotic, the song beautifully utilizes the musician’s multi-instrumental talents. The pair of songs demonstrate the maturity and ease with which Hope writes and promise growth in his young career.
Released with the hope of encouraging conversations about mental health, Love of Mine is successful in its ability to evoke emotions without being too on the nose. Equal parts touching and inspiring, Hope’s writing on the EP is admirable and essential. On top of the important message, the performance of the tracks definitely confirms my suspicion – there is something special in Macon, Georgia’s water.