Review: Matt Lovell finds his way on soothing 9-track album

This cover image released by Tone Tree Music shows “Nobody Cries Today” by Matt Lovell. (Tone Tree Music via AP)

Matt Lovell, “Nobody Cries Today” (Tone Tree Music)

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Matt Lovell has tapped gospel, soul and other influences in a gently impressive nine-song debut album called “Nobody Cries Today.”

With an eclectic sound that evokes Amos Lee as much as anybody, Lovell lends his smooth tenor to well-crafted and soulful songs about love, loss and finding his way in a complicated world.

It’s a promising if not especially groundbreaking debut for a singer willing to range around with confidence even when he’s wrestling with complicated subjects. The songs, written and recorded over a period of eight years, hold together in a soothing package that conveys a healthy disregard for musical boundaries.

They also reflect a journey of self-discovery and trauma. Lovell writes in notes for the album that he spent some of that time looking for self-acceptance as a gay man living in the South, which he hints was a complicated journey. He also says he nearly died after being shot in the chest during a carjacking in 2017, delaying the album’s completion.

For whatever turmoil he was dealing with, though, Lovell’s gentle spirit shines throughout. From the slow-roll gospel cuts, “Be Free” and “The Gospel” to the nostalgic closer “The Way That It Was,” he always sounds at peace with himself.

Lovell’s wheelhouse is blue-eyed soul, but the mix regularly suggests a variety of influences. On “90 Proof,” one of the album’s best cuts, Lovell frames a country lyric worthy of Nashville against the backdrop of an elegant ballad. “I got 90 proof that I ain’t over you,” he sings, “and I’m an honest drunk tonight.”

It’s the kind of juxtaposition that keeps things interesting — and elevates the work of a fresh new talent.