Matt Cusson - Matt Cusson (2009)

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    Matt Cusson
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    When was the last time you heard from-the-heart, soul-sweetening R&B that warms you from head to toe like early afternoon sunshine? If you can't remember when, try refreshing your memory with the self-titled debut from Los Angeles-based musician, producer and songwriter Matt Cusson.

    For the uninitiated, Mr. Cusson first came to the attention of fans via his playing live alongside soul crooner Brian McKnight, his crisp keyboarding skills, along with his supple tenor, entranced many a listener and whetted appetites for his own music, which doesn't disappoint. Co-authoring two of the tracks and penning eight more, the prolific Mr. Cusson plays nearly every instrument, but the most compelling one under his command is his vocals, which veer effortlessly from smoky jazz (a remake of John Mayer's "Comfortable" ) to airy pop ("Every Step") to creamy, silky soul ("Same Old Song," with Javier).  Even the most hardened cynic would melt after hearing the adoring "Heaven," the whimsical "Take Me Along" and the buttery Brian McKnight contribution, "Could," a well-executed duet with Shoshana Bean. Perfect for a solitary Sunday drive or a cozy evening for two, a few listeners may yearn for more edge or up-tempo flavor now and again (its range, although super-smooth, doesn't move past mid-tempo), but the unabashed romance and tenderness behind every track make Matt Cusson worth adding to the library. For those who are sick of vapid, auto-tuned, "drop-down-low-sweep-the-floor-with-it" R&B, this disc is long-awaited antidote.

    By Melody Charles