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

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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.