Matt Patershuk
An Honest Effort
Black Hen Music

Canadiana So Good It Will Live Long in the Memory of Everyone Who Ever Hears It.

Since I started this ‘reviewing’ malarkey there’s been a handful of Record Labels that I’ve come to trust with their releases; and Canada’s Black Hen Music is undoubtedly one of them.
I presume that I haven’t reviewed everything that has arrived my way; as they quite prolific, but I bet it’s been the vast majority and I’ve rarely been disappointed; and I’ve definitely not been disappointed with this album.
Matt Patershuk first graced our CD Player a couple of years ago with his SAME AS I EVER HAVE BEEN album and the intervening years (and another album IF WISHES WERE HORSES that I’ve somehow missed!) have helped him dig deeper to create even more personal songs and observations.
I love the sparse guitar prologue to opening track Johanna; and the song itself is quite exceptional. There’s a lovely laid-back feel to the melody that only serves to mask a tale of a young woman mysteriously ‘running away’ ….. from what or who is never actually revealed; but that open-endedness makes for a beautiful and beguiling tale; in the manner of Neil Young’s Unknown Legend.
Now I’ve played the album 4 or 5 times, I’m left wondering if the character at the centre of Sunny is the same as Johanna; as again it’s a woman ‘feeling trapped’ and wondering if she has the courage to break the metaphorical chains that bind her to home.
With Neil’s acoustic albums in mind; this is a similar type of album where you can kick back and wallow in the loveliness of Patershuk’s melodies and arrangements; but his songs really sparkle when you scratch the surface and let the stories unravel.
It’s only fair to say that Matt Patershuk has a voice that has lived an interesting life and has many stories to tell; none more so than Afraid to Speak Her Name and/or the Twangful Stay With Me, which could easily be an old Marty Robbins song, as Patershuk steps into the Country-Noir field.
While Black Hen is predominantly a Folk Label at heart; they’ve always sneakily released their own delightful version of Alt. Country; which I christened Canadiacana …. and that’s where Matt Patershuk comfortably sits.
But; never afraid to slip into new formats, 1.3 Miles is a sweet almost Appalachian tune; but with the sort of dark edge we’d normally associate with fellow Canadians Ian and Sylvia Tyson, ‘back in the day.’
Don’t think that this is an ‘ordinary’ album; Alt. Country or not …… as Matt has a very vivid imagination, daring to go where very few of his contemporaries dare tread ……. Jupiter the Flying Horse? A metaphorical tale perhaps/presumably or a song about a Barnum & Bailey circus act stallion who falls in love with someone below his social station?
Who knows?
Who cares?
It is just kinda lovely.
Then, shortly afterwards we get The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics!
Really? Seriously?
Apparently it’s ‘all about entropy, the certainty that objects in the universe tend toward disorder‘ and is Matt’s 2nd song based on this particular set of physical laws.
At the end of the day; why not?
Speaking of ‘why not’ …….. Matt’s ode to Shane MacGowan; and his new teeth is simply wonderful; no more and no less!
For my Favourite Song I actually pondered on that one for a few days; but dark and brooding, Afraid to Speak Her Name is one of those songs that very few songwriters can actually create and will live long in the memory of everyone who ever hears it.
But; and this is quite some achievement …… there is one more song that has captured not just my attention; but my heart too ……. so much so I called Mrs. Magpie into the office and ‘made’ her listen to Turn The Radio Up; which smacks of acoustic Springsteen and RMHQ favourites Rod Picott and Slaid Cleaves in equal measure.
Wow; there is so much hidden detail in this left of centre love song to keep me amused for months to come it simply has to be my Favourite.
There’s not a lot left to say; apart Matt Patershuk is likely to become one of those ‘word of mouth’ success stories; being married with two children and living in the middle of nowhere in Alberta; he’s unlikely to embark on a never ending World Tour any time soon; but with the power of the Internet hopefully he won’t have to, to pick up a fanbase who love great Singer-Songwriters.

PS While you may not have heard of Matt Patershuk; but such is his standing in the Canadian musical community Steve Dawson plays the guitar, pedal steel and Weissenborn,Jeremy Holmes adds bass and mandolin, Gary Craig lends wonderfully inventive percussion,  Keri Latimers voice is a great foil to Matt’s earthy one and the legendary Fats Kaplin contributes wizardry on fiddle, ukulele, banjo and harmonica…… what’s not to like?

Released November 19th 2021


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