Listening to the first track from Matt Hires' debut full-length, Take Us to the Start, it's impossible to deny that the Floridian singer-songwriter dabbles in the melodramatic, quavering vocal delivery Conor Oberst popularized. Hires is sorta like Oberst 2.0. He's got the yearning, quasi-depressed lyrics. He's got a face that teenage girls will speedily tack to their bedroom walls, and mussed hair, to boot. However, with the backing of Atlantic Records, an extensive collection of fedoras, and his latest single, "Honey Let Me Sing You a Song" (prominently featured on an episode of ABC's Cougar Town), the Tampa native doesn't carry the tortured artist torch too convincingly. But he doesn't really need to. Take Us to the Start's fashionable radio pop does all but ensure that Hires can continue developing his burgeoning career without digging too emotionally deep. Hires has opened for the likes of Dave Matthews Band and Marc Broussard and now is headlining a tour, with support from the incredibly dreadlocked former American Idol contestant Jason Castro.
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