True North Records
Enough Sheffield Steel from Canada to Make You Cocker Happy.
I’ve loved Matt Andersen’s last couple of albums; and in concert at the Jumping Hot Club his raw dynamism and technical brilliance on the acoustic guitar is still talked about two years later; but nothing previously has prepared me for this album.
Opening track, Break Away made me do a double take; as it has a slightly Reggaeish list to it and the production makes Andersen’s voice sound a lot less raw than on previous outings. Plus it features backing singers on the chorus and a flute too.
Jump forward four tracks and it was Mrs. Magpie who made the penny drop about what was so different; “Is this Joe Cocker?” She asked.
Well; without actually sounding exactly like my favourite ever singer; the gold plated production and ace backing band allows Matt to deliver a series of exceptional songs in the manner of Sheffield’s finest son.
If pressed I would previously have referred to Matt as a guitarist who sings; but that is definitely not the case here; as it’s his magnificently rich voice that everything revolves around.
There are times here I was left open mouthed; I’m particularly thinking of the delicately beautiful I’m Giving In; which is basically just a piano and vocals; but Andersen’s voice goes off like an operatic Space Rocket at times while the piano playing could be Elton John circa Blue Moves (it’s that good).
The other was Last Surrender; again Joe Cocker sprang to mind; but this is as good as Matt Andersen has ever recorded and if there’s any justice will be a song that features in all manner of Award ceremonies in late 2016.
Another song; Let’s Get Back; baffled me at first and I certainly didn’t want to like it; mainly because it has ‘Electronic Beats’ alongside a banjo; but a week after first hearing it; the song manages to move me in a way ‘modern’ music doesn’t usually; and I certainly feel that by sticking with it; I’ve made a leap of faith that has been repaid handsomely.
My favourite song though; is the title track Honest Man. Somewhere between Andersen’s powerful presentation, a Stax-like horn section and lyrics that will tug at your heartstrings make for a raw Alt. Soul song like you’ve never heard before; well not since the heady days of Otis and Wilson Pickett in the 60’s.
I’ve played this album in the car on motorway journeys, at home while having dinner and/or reading and when it touched me most of all; lying in bed at 5am with headphones on when Andersen’s voice made me cry more than once.
I’m writing this on 31st December 2015 and I already know Honest Man will be a contender for my Album of the year 2016! It will take one Hell of a record to be better than this.
Released February 26th 2016