Matt Andersen has been enthralling audiences with his one of a kind performance in North America, Europe and Australia for years. And in the last few he’s managed to net three Maple Blues Awards, a Memphis Blues Challenge win, a CIMA Road Gold Award, a European Blues Award, and a Juno Award nomination. A powerhouse performer with a giant soul-filled voice and commanding stage presence, Andersen has built a formidable following the old fashioned way – touring worldwide and letting the converted audiences and Andersen devotees spread his reputation through word of mouth.
Earlier this fall the award winning artist once again de-camped from his New Brunswick home – this time to record his upcoming eighth full-length album. Produced in New York with Commissioner Gordon (Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, KRS-One), Honest Man follows up the JUNO Award nominated Weightless and sees the songwriter pushing himself into new territory. Blessed with a rich gospel soul voice and armed with a new set of songs, Matt Andersen found a perfect partner in crime with Commissioner Gordon.
“Gordon has worked with so many different people, like Santana and Quincy Jones, on so many historic albums,” says Andersen. “He has such a great approach and was able to tie-in so many new ideas to what I’ve done in the past without losing touch with my sound.”
From writing around drum beats to bringing in a cast of players including Andy Bassford (Toots and the Maytals, Burning Spear, Natalie Merchant) Benjamin Bouton (Ibibio Sound Machine), Josh David Barrett (The Wailers, Lauryn Hill), and Lenny Underwood (Mary J. Blige, Amy Winehouse), Honest Man expands on what we already know and love from Andersen and brings it to a new level.
“Gordon brought a drum beat 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.”
Set for release on February 26 via True North Records, the ten songs that make up Honest Man explore both the political and the personal. The title track, co-written with Chris Kirby, was inspired by a US political cartoon while “Let’s Get Back”, co-penned with Andy Stochansky, has Andersen thinking about how his country as a nation has changed, but not for the better. “Who Are You Listening To?” was hatched with Ryan Hupman during a pre-election social media flood and emerges as a rally call for people to make up their own minds and not be swung by the ‘information’ we’re being fed.
On “All The Way”, written with Gordie Sampson, Andersen takes a more personal approach as he sings about the decision to fully commit to a relationship, while on the alluring piano ballad “I’m Giving In”, composed with Andy Stochansky and Jamie Hartman, he muses about the moments leading up to that commitment.
“The song ‘I’m Giving In’ was the final one that I needed to lay down vocals for,” recalls Andersen. “It was my last night in New York and the studio we were using was underneath a ballroom where Alicia Keys was rehearsing for a performance the next night. We managed to get the piano recorded in between the breaks of the rehearsal but had to skip the vocals. We went back to Gordon’s studio to listen back to the weeks’ work and enjoy a scotch when we decided to take a stab at recording the vocals. This was at 1am. It was a special way to wrap up the sessions with Gordon.”
On one of two songs created with Donovan Woods called “One Good Song” Andersen sings about exactly that. He explains, “All songwriters desire to have that one good song that just gets everybody. Not necessarily a hit, but a song that when it’s heard you can’t help but listen. This song is about the journey we all take to get there.” There is no need at all for Matt Andersen to worry about one good song, Honest Man is a watershed album full of transcendent musical moments that should elevate the songwriter from internationally acclaimed to world renowned.
No stranger to the headlining spot during summer festival season, Andersen has shared the stage and toured with Bo Diddley, Buddy Guy, Greg Allman, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Randy Bachman, Little Feat, Jonny Lang, Serena Ryder, and more. Supporting the release of Honest Man Andersen will take to the road throughout February and March with a string of North American tour dates including a stop in Kelowna on February 19 at The Kelowna Community Theatre.
Joining him on stage behind the drum set is Geoff Arsenault (Daniel Lanois, Matt Mays, Al Tuck, Mary Jane Lamond), a multifaceted artist with a soulful sensibility known for his generous and harmonious style. On bass and harmonica is the JUNO Award winning multi-instrumentalist and producer Steve Marriner (MonkeyJunk, Harry Manx). And taking up the guitar and keys is Chris Kirby (Wide Mouth Mason, Big Sugar), a 10-time ECMA nominee, 5 time Music Newfoundland Award winner, and in demand songwriter, co-writing with the likes of Tim Chaisson, Phil Churchill (The Once), Eddie Schwartz, Stephen Fearing, and many others.
NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES
Feb 16 – Duncan, BC – Cowichan Performing Arts Centre
Feb 17 – Victoria, BC – University of Victoria Farquhar Auditorium
Feb 18 – Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre
Feb 19 – Kelowna, BC – Kelowna Community Theatre
Feb 20 – Banff, AB – The Banff Centre
Feb 21 – Edmonton, AB – Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Feb 22 – Calgary, AB – Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Feb 24 – Saskatoon, SK – Broadway Theatre
Feb 25 – Regina, SK – University of Regina Drake Hall
Feb 26 – Winnipeg, MB – Burton Cummings Theatre
Feb 27 – Guelph, ON – River Run Centre
Feb 28 – London, ON – Centennial Hall
Mar 1 – Kitchener, ON – Centre In The Square
Mar 2 – St. Catharines, ON – St. Catharines Performing Arts Centre
Mar 3 – Owen Sound, ON – Roxy Theatre
Mar 4 – Burlington, ON – Burlington Performing Arts Centre
Mar 5 – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
Mar 6 – Orillia, ON – Orillia Opera House
Mar 8 – Port Hope, ON – Cameco Capitol Arts Centre
Mar 9 – Markham, ON – Flato Markham Theatre
Mar 10 – Kingston, ON – Grand Theatre
Mar 11 – Burlington, VT – Club Metronome
Mar 12 – Boston, MA – Club Passim
Mar 13 – Bethlehem, PA – Blast Furnace Blues Festival
Mar 14 – Vienna, VA – Jammin Java
Mar 15 – New London, CT – Garde Arts
Mar 16 – Portsmouth, NH – Birdseye
Mar 18 – New York City, NY – Rockwood Music Hall
Mar 19 – Philadelphia, PA – Tin Angel
Mar 20 – Fall River, MA – Narrows Center For The Arts
Mar 24 – Ottawa, ON – National Arts Centre
Mar 25 – Montreal, QC – L’Astral