“Music can be an amazingly potent thing. When I sing into the microphone in the studio, I’m whispering my secrets in people’s ears. When it connects, it can be so powerful. It’s still a remarkable process to me.”
The image of a pianist sitting in front of eighty-eight keys, fingering depressing songs in a smoke-filled lounge has become something of a dismal cliché. More often then not, the injection of emotion in the songs is unjustified and insistent upon itself. However, the music performed by British singer/songwriter Matt Hales, aka Aqualung, is unapologetic in its portrayal of emotion. When he starts twinkling the keys and singing a heart-heavy song about life’s ups and downs, you are left with the feeling that your reaction to the music doesn’t matter. It will still maintain its level of sorrow, joy, sadness, or whatever emotion is derived from the music, without your approval. This says more about the talent of the artist than the vulnerability of the listener.
Aqualung has been writing music since he was four and won a music scholarship when he was sixteen. He composed a symphony entitled “Life Cycle” which was performed by a 60-piece orchestra and performed with British rock bands “Ruth” and “The 45’s” before breaking out and performing on his own. His solo career took off in 2002 when a demo for his song “Strange and Beautiful” was used in a Volkswagen commercial, and quickly climbed the UK pop charts. After achieving success in Britain, Aqualung gained notoriety in the US when his song “Brighter than Sunshine” was used in the movie A Lot Like Love. Other songs by Aqualung have been used on TV shows such as CSI: Miami, Gossip Girl, Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C., Cold Case, and also used in a series of Chrysler car commercials.
His music is evocative of what happens when raw talent meets unquenchable emotional expression. There is a famous line in the Beatles tune, “Hey Jude,” that says, “Take a sad song and make it better.” Without question, this the feeling one gets while listening to Aqualung.
Still Life (2003)
Strange and Beautiful (2005)
Memory Man (2007)
Words and Music (2008)