Shimmering with warmth, “I’m Just About Done” offers an object lesson in the power of crisp, skillful production to bring a song to life. It’s a fine song to begin with, and Matt Longo is a gifted singer, but a number of little decisions are made along the way that add to the potency of both the singer and the song.
First smart decision: to begin the song without an actual introduction but in a way that still feels like an introduction, which is affected by starting the verse slowly and starkly, with minimal accompaniment. We can right away sink into the tender qualities of Longo’s voice, and be introduced to a melody that gains power as the song’s true tempo kicks in (0:08) and, even better, when the drum joins the piano and guitar (0:29). Note that even now the full rhythm section hasn’t come on board; this is a moment that waits for the beginning of the second verse (0:45), and to me, that kind of discipline pays off, giving the song a kind of wordless “story arc” that is less available to songs in which the band roars in full steam from the get-go.
Lovely things continue to happen. Horns slide in shortly after the rhythm section enters and move to the forefront of the accompaniment by 0:51. I love the grace of the horn lines here, how they embrace and enfold the melody rather than offering a more traditional kind of “horn chart” burst. And these in turn lead to the song’s last major building block, which is the female vocal harmony that enters the second time we hear the chorus (1:16), sung beautifully by Brigit Kelly Young and mixed with tantalizing discretion—as vibrantly as she sings, you can also rather easily not hear her as well, if you don’t focus on her, and for me there is more power in robust singing mixed down than there would be if her voice had been given more volume. Note that in seeking to point out some of the winning nuances of “I’m Just About Done,” let me not forget that it is still Longo’s skill as a singer and songwriter that carries the day. There are moments when the combined sweetness of the melody and the voice give me the chills.
“I’m Just About Done” can be found on Longo’s EP You Bet Your Life, which was released last month and is available in full as a free download via Bandcamp. He has one full-length release to date, which came out in December 2011, and was previously featured on Fingertips in January 2011.