BIG voice. Big talent. Everything about Matt Andersen is big...
He is the Canadian guitar wizard with his roots in the blues and his eye on the next musical horizon.
And that is what makes his latest album so special.
For it is anchored to the music which Andersen knows and loves best but straining to explore new territory.
Rich warm brass sections fill out the tones. But it is Andersen’s effortless guitar style which dominates, along with his rich vocals.
Coal Mining Blues is also a tip of the hat to another of Andersen’s all-important roots, Perth-Andover the blue collar town where he was raised.
Recalls Andersen: “It’s a really small, family-oriented community. Everybody knows everybody.
“My dad’s worked as a logger pretty much his whole life. But there’s always been music around: My grandfather played fiddle, my mom plays piano in church. Most of my cousins have had bands at some point. Whenever there’s a get-together there’s always about nine or 10 fiddles or guitars in the room.”
This musical household got Andersen interested in playing early on and it wasn’t long before he was in the school band, first on tuba and later on trumpet.
He took up guitar at 14 and was soon playing classic rock and Top 40 covers in pub bands.
Things changed dramatically when he discovered the blues: “Through Clapton I got into BB King, which led me to the Chicago electric stuff and eventually back to the Mississippi Delta guys. What really hit me most about the blues was its total honesty.”
His instantly recognisable voice and slide guitar made a huge impression on audiences and he was soon playing the most appreciative venues Canada has to offer.
That brought him across the Atlantic and he has been a regular on the touring circuit for three years now.
Matt Andersen will be at the Greystones, Sheffield, next Thursday. The venue has other great nights lined up, with American singer songwriter Kim Richey visiting tomorrow and another lady visitor form America, Rachel Harrington, there next Thursday.
The hottest of the young guns on the acoustic folk scene is Seth Lakeman, who visits Sheffield next week, with songs from his new album Tales From The Barrel House. This really was a labour of love, with Lakeman writing, singing and playing all the instruments as well as recording and mixing the album.
He said: “This is the type of album I could never have done with a major label. I’m grateful for having worked in some of the best-equipped studios and with top producers, but with this I felt free to do my own thing for the first time in years.”
It underlines his knack for writing both foot-stomping songs and tender, thoughtful ballads.
Seth Lakeman will be at the Plug, Sheffield, next Thursday.
Phil Beer is at the Rock@Maltby, Wesley Centre, Maltby, next Friday. Tomorrow’s guests are the Lonnie Donegan Band, featuring Peter Donegan.