YELLOW SHOOTS – Single Review: “SIRENS (Mermaid Version)”

Yellow Shoots is the music project of singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Matthews. The Brooklyn, New York-based artist was one of the very first I wrote about, way back in March 2016 when my blog was still in its infancy. His artistic name comes from his experiences with synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway, such as sound, leads to an automatic, involuntary response in a second sensory or cognitive pathway, such as sight. He sometimes sees vivid yellow colors when hearing music (a common form of synesthesia is known as chromesthesia, for sound to color), hence his name “Yellow Shoots.” With his distinctive vocal style and skillful fusing of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, electronic, hip-hop, alternative and psychedelic, he creates his own unique neo-soul sound that envelops listeners in raw sensuality and emotion.

Beginning with his debut single “Pieces” in 2014, the prolific artist has released an extensive amount of music in the years since, including his marvelous Prince-influenced album everything in 2018. One of the singles “make it to the summer” has garnered nearly half a million streams on Spotify. Last May, I reviewed his single “Wonderful Day”, which was featured on his EP Naked, released in July 2020. He’s also collaborated with numerous other artists, most recently last September with fellow Brooklyn singer-songwriter, producer and engineer Johnny Burgos on their single “Fun Tonight”. Now he returns with “SIRENS (Mermaid Version)“, the first single from his forthcoming sophomore LP The Green Album, due for release in July. He programmed synths, played all instruments, sang vocals and produced the track. His brother Jason Matthews did the mixing and Dan Millice did the mastering.

Release via his label La Reserve Records, the song is a totally reimagined version of his 2018 single “Sirens”, a silky and mesmerizing R&B/hip hop song about a long-distance love affair. Yellow Shoots uses the beguiling but dangerous Sirens of Greek mythology as a metaphor for the intense, all-consuming longing that comes from being far away from the one you love. He elaborates “They’re singing you to shipwreck. You put yourself in harm’s way because you’re so in love.” On “SIRENS (Mermaid Version)” he shaves about 30 seconds off the song and dials up the tempo from the previous version’s chill, musically-spare vibe to a faster-paced, more sonically complex track. About the new version, he said “This song is me drawing from my many influences, and not trying to fit into one style.” 

Yellow Shoots’ shimmery, psychedelic-tinged guitar notes take center stage here, as he layers them over a kaleidoscope of lush analog synths and skittering R&B grooves. I love all the colorful synth textures and quirky sounds he adds to the mix, and when accompanied by his electronically-altered falsetto, it all makes for an enchanting and fascinating listen. The more dynamic arrangement lends a greater sense of urgency to the lines he sings in the chorus “blind my eyes, tie my hands, I’ve got nothing left to lose“, symbolizing a complete surrender to lustful desires. It’s a great track.

Follow Yellow Shoots:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / Tidal
Purchase:  Amazon

YELLOW SHOOTS – Single Review: “Wonderful Day”

Yellow Shoots wonderful day art

Man, time flies when you’re having fun! It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that it’s already been more than four years since I last featured Brooklyn, New York-based artist Yellow Shoots on this blog. (You can read my article here.) I remember being blown away by his soulful and sultry vibes, and it’s heartening to see his star continue to rise. He fuses R&B, soul, funk, jazz, psychedelic and hip-hop grooves to create his own unique neo-soul sound that envelops you in raw sensuality and emotion.

Yellow Shoots is the music project of singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Matthews. His artistic name comes from his experiences with synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway, such as sound, leads to an automatic, involuntary response in a second sensory or cognitive pathway, such as sight. He sometimes sees vivid yellow colors when hearing music (a common form of synesthesia is known as chromesthesia, for sound to color), hence his name “Yellow Shoots.”

He started releasing music after moving to Brooklyn from Philadelphia in 2014, beginning with his single “Pieces”. He’s put out a fair amount of music in the years since, including his marvelous Prince-influenced album everything in 2018. One of the singles “make it to the summer” has been streamed more than 446,000 times on Spotify. Now he’s back with a new single “Wonderful Day“, from his forthcoming EP Naked, due out in June. Released via LaReserve Records, the song was written, performed and produced by Yellow Shoots, mixed by Javon Gant-Graham, and mastered by Dan Millice. The track has already been featured on TIDAL’s official .WAV playlist.

Yellow Shoots
Photos by Elijah Craig

About “Wonderful Day”, he explains: “This song combines my 90s rap and R&B roots with late 60s/early 70s records I dug as a teenager. It’s sorta like Nelly meets Zeppelin. It’s a trippy love song I wrote last Summer about being comfortable with the past.” The song has a languid and funky trip hop beat that forms a chilled backdrop for his strummed acoustic guitars, soulful bass, gentle percussion and hazy psychedelic synths.

Yellow Shoots electronically alters his warm, sultry vocals at various spots in the track by doubling and/or speeding up the pitch in a manner similar to what Prince was doing in the 80s. The result is quirky and utterly charming as he croons the sweet lyrics to the object of his desire, hoping she has similar feelings for him: “I put my cards on your table, throwing out the clues / If an apple or a pear, I need your divine / And I think about you every day. I’m hoping I’m the paper underneath your pen.

Follow Yellow Shoots:  FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream his music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudTidal
Purchase:  AmazonGoogle Play

Artist Spotlight – YELLOW SHOOTS

If you like your music smooth, sultry and sexy, then Yellow Shoots is definitely your go-to artist.  He seamlessly fuses R&B, soul, jazz and hip-hop to create gorgeous songs that immediately envelop you in raw sensuality and emotion.

Yellow Shoots is actually Greg Matthews, a singer/songwriter from Philadelphia who is now based in the growing music scene of Brooklyn. His artistic name was born from his experiences with synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway, such as sound, leads to an automatic, involuntary response in a second sensory or cognitive pathway, such as sight.(Wikipedia)  Greg sometimes sees vivid yellow colors when hearing music (a common form of synesthesia is known as chromesthesia, for sound to color), hence the name “Yellow Shoots.”

He attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he studied guitar. He began honing his music skills playing guitar for Noel Terrel’s gospel band, and later collaborated with Ryan Toby of City High, and played back-up for R&B/pop singer GoGo Morrow at Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival in 2013.  After relocating to Brooklyn in 2014, Yellow Shoots started writing and producing his own music, and released his stellar debut single “Pieces” that October. His lushly produced music is mostly synthesized, and he records almost every instrument featured in his songs.  His silky-smooth, sensually breathy vocals call to mind the jazz singer Michael Franks.

In “Pieces,” warm, jazzy textures and multi-layered vocals, including sounds of a child singing, contrast with the darker lyrics of disillusionment and deceit: “All the ways that you show me that you care, turn into lies.”

After “Pieces” dropped, he continued working on additional songs, eventually releasing his EP More Alive in 2015. That EP contains five songs, all of which address love, lust, and relationships, set to slow, soulful electronic hip-hop infused vibes. Other singers collaborated on two of the songs – Mayo for the title song “More Alive” and Faja for “Soul Find Me.”

In an interview with Josh Messer for the weblog pressplay, Yellow Shoots explained his inspiration for his highly seductive music style. “Honestly, I think society has some serious polarity in the arena of sexuality. Sex in America is either massively overdone, overcompensating to grab people’s attention, or it’s considered completely taboo. I think this EP has a naturally seductive nature because I explored what sex actually does to people. I think it’s capable of driving people to insanity, euphoria, freedom and knowledge. It can be liberating as well as damaging. Most of the music here demonstrates sex as a quest for knowledge, to learn about others, expand one’s mind. So I explored this side of sex. It’s much less about about the instinctual side.”

Here is a live performance of another song from the EP – “Tame You” – performed with a back-up band on the roof of a Manhattan highrise for Balcony TV in 2015:

With his latest release, the bluesy, ethereal “Stormy Weather,” Yellow Shoots vocalizes the emotional agony and sense of loss that comes with the break-up of a relationship. He told The FADER magazine, “‘Stormy Weather’ is about a person losing a relationship or separating ties with someone. It talks about how one doesn’t actually feel the depths or significance at the time they lose a relationship. I tried to demonstrate that I get hit with that wave of loss at an unexpected time, which is often triggered by an unexpected event. Life is odd and awkward for a bit and all of a sudden you get smacked in the face with everything that’s missing, everything you had before.”

Yellow Shoots is currently working on his follow-up EP, scheduled to be released in 2016.

If you dig his music, support this guy and check it out on itunes, Spotify and SoundCloud.