The brilliant new nine-player band brings all sorts of new layers to the formula. Stansberry’s melodies are good enough to stand on their own; the backing vocals, horn section and keys add another dimension to his sound.
The title track bridges the gap between ’50s pop and soul, beaming like sunshine with a good amount of shimmy. “She’s Got It” is similarly infectious. Other offerings play more like straight soul — “Tonight” and “In Your Arms” recalls what contemporaries like Mayer Hawthorne and Fitz and the Tantrums are doing.
In that same vein, “Bad World” opens with that incomparable crack of the needle making contact with the vinyl, and the sultry background vocals and jazzy arrangement unfold in such a way that you’d never guess the track wasn’t decades old.
Stansberry has never been a slouch, but he really finds his groove with Let’s Brighten It Up. It’s not hard to imagine why he is midair on that cover. He must be jumping for joy.
Let’s Brighten It Up is available now on iTunes and Amazon, or at mattstansberry.com. —Joshua Boydston