We’ve seen Matt Andersen perform live at Belfast’s Real Music Club in the past, and it is fair to say that he’s shaken the very foundations of the Errigle Inn with his powerful voice.
However, his latest offering ‘Honest Man’ shows a much more sensitive and soulful side to the affable big man from Canada.
From the opening song ‘Break Away’, we can hear the difference in the music and tone of this record when compared with Anderson’s previous offerings. Soulful Hammond organ underlies a funky meandering bass riff and above it all Anderson’s vocals rise and fall in reassuring tones delivering the positive message of the song to the listener.
When the world is pulling down on you, and you’re feeling like there’s nothing left for you do / Pack it up and move down the line / Step away with your head held high
‘The Gift’ follows in a very similar and laid back style while style delivering words of encouragement and positivity. Never one to miss a chance to take a swipe at corruption ‘Honest Man’ sees Anderson deliver a shot across the bows of American political elite. Fat horns and a deep driving rhythm pound out the message.
When I need it I just can’t get any help. Everybody’s just servicing themselves. Nobody’s got time for an honest man.
Recording the album with producer Commissioner Gordon (Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, KRS-One) has been a shrewd move for Andersen. While his voice has been serving the blues for many years this collaboration with Gordon has allowed him to stretch out and control his vocal talents taking him into Soul and Gospel territory where he fits in very well.
‘Quiet Company’ is a more traditional sounding song on the collection. It’s got a laid back country feel to it backed up with sampled drums and slide guitars. Once again Anderson’s vocals make the listener think he’s singing directly to them and if he does have a nice log cabin somewhere it sounds like he’d be the perfect host.
I got wood for the fire, soup on the go. Moons coming up and you’re a long way from home. You can come inside and stay with me for a while
‘Let’s Get Back’ has echoes of ‘Midnight Rider’ by the Allman Brothers with it’s melody. Although the tremendous horn solo in the middle soon takes it beyond the comparison.
Another political sideswipe comes in the form of the rocking ‘Who Are You Listening Too’.
Probably the biggest difference any listener who is familiar with Andersen’s work will notice on this record is the drum samples. As Andersen explains:
Gordon brought a drumbeat to one of our first sessions that I loved, and I wrote ‘Let’s Get Back’ around it. When we tracked, we did it the same way as the others – myself on acoustic guitar, Benji on electric, Josh on bass. Using beats is something I never thought I would go for. But it was a lot of fun and I’m really excited with what we recorded. If I was left up to my own devices it would have been a very different record.
‘Honest Man’ is a record that shows an artist who’s not afraid to break the mould and step out from the expected. Luscious horns and funky bass riffs give this record a warmth and depth of any soul record produced in the 1970s. If this is a sample of the musical direction that Anderson is intending to follow in the future then he has not only managed to consolidate his already impressive credentials as a blues-man, but also enhance his career as a soul and Gospel singer.