I don’t sleep much. Thus, I often find myself in the market for quality programming.
One of my favorites is Backstage Pass, produced by CBC. The show is designed as an inside look at the best music Canada has to offer, allowing the discovery of artists I am now a big fan of, simply because of this show. One night I turned on Backstage Pass and I heard a voice that, at first, I thought was Bob Seger.
But it wasn’t. It was Matt Andersen and I was instantly hooked.
2014’s Weightless secured my Matt Andersen fandom. Top to bottom, the album was one of my favorites that year. Now it is 2016 and Matt Andersen is back with Honest Man.
Honest Man is different from Weightless in many ways. Whereas Weightless felt more like blue-eyed soul or blues rock, Honest Man has much deeper r&b, jazz, and funk influences while maintaining the soul and blues roots Andersen’s fans have come to love.
Every so often you’ll find an album where the artist is being completely honest with themselves and their audience, regardless of the theme of the album or individual tracks. Every second is honest. It’s an artist in their individual sweet spot while writing and preforming the record. Honest Man is one of these albums.
There is a section of Honest Man that hits me right in the chest. I’m Giving In , Quiet Company, and Who are you listening to? speak to the listener in a way that shows true song writing prowess. It is like these songs are speaking directly to me. The sign of a well-crafted track is creating a message that, regardless of the listener’s situation, sounds like it was written to or about them.
The thing about Honest Man that I think really sets it apart is the record’s balance, but not just in terms of content of the composition but in production and planning. There is a flow to Honest Man that keeps you going right through to the end. The album starts out fast and funky with Break Away, slows down in the middle with ballads and more traditional blues and soul, then picks up again before coming to an end with One Good Song. It’s a formula that works so well you don’t even realize you’ve listened to the whole album until it is over.
And then you want more.
The last track is called One Good Song. Remember when I talked about this album hitting me in the chest? One Good Song hits me right in the heart.
I love the song so much I hate the fact that I didn’t write it. This song is perfect. Without too much back story or too many tears, the story this song tells not only speaks to my life but echoes much of my experience in the music industry. It speaks to the things musicians deal with that other people, especially fans, don’t see.
It’s the drive to get to that next show; that next rung on the latter and the next high that can come only from being on stage, all while begging — as the song says — “Give me one good song”.
I’ve never heard one song that so accurately sums up the things I don’t know how to articulate. For that I must say thank you to Matt Anderson. Thank you for doing what my own limited sense of expression could not.
Special thanks to True North Records for making this review possible. Check out the other artists on their site and keep it tuned here as I may talk about more of their great roster.
Follow me on Twitter @iAm_Indie and let me know who I should be listening to and talking about.