A live performance by Columbia band Prettier Than Matt can lead to people quite literally dancing in the street. The duo’s mix of catchy original songs and an eclectic assortment of covers familiar enough to sing along with yet inimitably stamped with their own style has helped them build an ever-larger regional following in their seven years together.
After delivering a memorable performance at the annual Gervais Street Bridge Dinner Oct. 22, singer/keyboard/ukulele player Jessica Skinner and guitarist/singer Jeff Pitts released their latest CD, “Uncover,” with a debut party at Columbia’s Main Street Public House.
“The CD has a lot of bright sounds but it also has some darker material,” Skinner said. “We have a couple of older songs but mostly new ones.”
The duo will celebrate their eighth anniversary as a band in the spring, and Skinner laughed at the suggestion that such a long-lasting relationship must be in some ways like a marriage.
“We do spend about that much time together,” she said. “We do argue and fight, but we get through it. We have a really solid friendship to build off of.”
Pitts and Skinner work together seamlessly, but their musical influences are very different. Skinner said that tightness has evolved over time, and that difference in musical taste has been a positive for them. She calls their style as a band pop rock, smiling and adding “Ukulele pop rock.”
“We can anticipate each other and we build off each other’s strengths,” she said. Prettier Than Matt concerts are known for the cover songs the band delivers, including many one might not expect from an acoustic duo. The two perform songs by Michael Jackson, Foo Fighters, the Beatles, and many more.
“It’s just eclectic. We play stuff that we would listen to,” said Skinner. “That’s what makes it so accessible for people who listen to us.” Her own tastes lean toward country, folk and Americana artists like Alison Krauss and Nickel Creek, while Pitts favors a heavier sound, with his style influenced by Metallica, Bon Jovi and other rock stars.
Skinner said she and Pitts are always writing new material, but often have only bits and pieces until a deadline approaches.
“I come up with little riffs and hooks and stuff and then when it’s time to record, we just book recording time and it’s like ‘Let’s finish these songs,'” she said. “We have to be pressured.”
Prettier Than Matt appears frequently all over the Southeast and often in Columbia. Their music, including the new CD, is available anywhere you buy music online, including Pandora and Spotify, and at the band’s website, which also has a list of upcoming appearances. The video for “Heaven Forbid,” the first single from “Uncover,” is now on YouTube.