Arkansas native Matt Stell is having a fantastic 2020. With over 340 million cumulative streams across his catalog to date, and a top 10 (and climbing) single in Everywhere But On, the platinum-selling artist is on top of the world. He performed his first headline tour, hosted a wildly successful 8-week Instagram live series, performed the national anthem at a NASCAR Cup Series race and became the first artist to receive a virtual plaque from the RIAA to commemorate his platinum debut single, Prayed For You.
And as if that wasn’t enough – he’s now preparing to release his next EP, Better Than That. Co-produced by Stell with Ash Bowers, the 8-track collection features 5 self-penned songs, including Prayed For You and Everywhere But On. The EP also includes the recently released If I Was A Bar, and its innovative music video filmed during quarantine, where Matt played all 13 characters.
This EP is longer than most at 8 songs, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s a perfectly curated collection and when it’s over, it’s over too soon. It’s a perfect showcase for Stell’s diverse and versatile talent – vocally, musically and lyrically. Everywhere But On is the opener, and it’s a song I can’t get enough of. Stell’s voice is as smooth as silk on this country ballad.
If I Was A Bar is up next. Between this and the title track (fourth on the tracklisting), we see Stell’s smart lyrics really shine. Both of these songs are an upbeat good time, with the former taking cues from the country-rock subgenre and the latter being a little more traditional in its composition. I Love You Too (track 5) is another smart track, playfully explaining the difference between ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too’.
Prayed For You is the third song, and as debut singles go, this one certainly went – platinum, that is. This song is a standout in that it’s not obviously reflective of a breakup – but it’s a song that could fit anywhere within a relationship timeline, such is the intelligence of Stell’s writing.
The final three tracks are a little moodier; Sadie (track 6) is a reflection on a past relationship that ended – but Stell sings of how he’d still go to bat for his former flame regardless of their history. Sadie opens up a darker, rockier soundscape that allows Stell’s powerful vocals to shine.
Chase It Down and Look At Me Now close the collection. The former is another rock-infused anthem with a great pace for driving. The guitars are heavier than in the first handful of songs and the percussion is more persistent and insistent. Look At Me Now is a little more mellow to end the EP, but the guitars are just as full and layered. It’s a stunning reflection on watching his bride walk down the aisle with some true, traditional guitar work woven throughout.
On the whole, this is a fantastically diverse-yet-cohesive collection of songs. They say I wish you were mine or I miss you – or at least, I still love you and I miss what we had when I had you.
In 2019, Matt’s US multi-week No. 1 Platinum-certified hit, “Prayed For You” made his the ONLY debut single to top the Billboard Country Airplay chart that year (for two consecutive weeks), and also notching the top spot in Country Aircheck/Mediabase. The highly acclaimed smash, written by Stell with Ash Bowers and Allison Veltz Cruz, has accumulated more than 270 million streams worldwide.