Matt Andersen

Matt Andersen has logged countless miles following little white lines down the highway, crossed vast oceans, and left audiences around the world forever changed by his powerful, soul-baring song writing. Those travels have been fueled by a profound devotion to music, a journey that began in New Brunswick with six steel strings. Since then, Andersen’s work has reached spectacular heights through rich arrangements and fruitful collaboration, but at its core, one musical relationship has remained at the very heart of the whole affair. For his latest long-player, the laid-bare House to House, Andersen brings it all back home with the sweet chemistry that only a voice and guitar alone, together, can conjure.

With bright soul, introspective folk, and songs rooted in blues, House to House showcases a more intimate vibe than what listeners might be used to on the songwriter’s studio recordings – “The Softer Side of Matt Andersen,” if you will. “Over the years I’ve come to really appreciate the moments in a show when I can chill out and not worry about making as much sound as possible,” Andersen says. “Songs that are as much about the space as they are about what happens between the spaces. Big and strong isn’t big and strong if you don’t have a quiet moment to compare it to.”

He lets his grand, resonant boom settle just a little after opening the high and lonesome “Other Side of Goodbye,” allowing for the melancholy to softly seep in, and gets pensive over melodic finger picking on “Lookin’ Back at You.” Love songs abound – “Let Me Hold You” sets the scene for a quiet, fireside evening; he paints the town red with the help of Terra Spencer’s harmonies on “Raise Up Your Glass;” and “See This Through” summons strength during a dark period in a relationship. On the ghostly “Coal Mining Blues” – an older song, recorded here stripped-down for the first time – Andersen zooms in to the individual level, examining the pain that the industry inflicts on its soot-covered foot soldiers. He gets a little help from his friends Reeny, Micah, and Mahalia Smith to spread some good news on the gospel-inflected David Francey tune “Time for the Wicked to Rest,” and calls on listeners to live fully, despite trials and tribulations, on the soaring “All We Need.”

Finally, the Smiths trade vocal duties with Andersen for the album’s heart-swelling finale – a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” – subtly reminding us that even a solo record takes a village. Behind the scenes, House to House was constructed during “this big pause we all landed in,” as Andersen puts it, with the help of friends and family who he’s forged close relationships with over the span of his long career. The title track is a co-write with Chris Robison and Scott Prudence, who built the home studio Andersen had always dreamed of 30 feet from his front door, where the album was recorded live off-the-floor, with no overdubs. The voices you hear mingling with Andersen’s – Terra Spencer, Ryan Hupman, and the Smiths – were really there in the room with him. And the collection of co-writers reads like a laundry list of the best in the business: Terra Lightfoot, Dave Gunning, Gordie Sampson, Breagh Isabel, Tom Wilson, Clayton Bellamy, Colin Linden, and the aforementioned Spencer, Hupman, Robison, and Prudence.

House to House was produced by Andersen himself, engineered by Chris Kirby, mixed by Cory Tetford, and mastered by Kim Rosen at Knack Mastering. It’s the latest installation in a body of work that is expansive, rich, and varied, revealing Andersen as an artist who’s just as comfortable delivering a tender ballad as he is flying high on gospel or belting the blues. But as Andersen’s first solo studio record, it also stands alone as a pure document from one of the most compelling songwriters and engaging performers in modern roots music.

About the opener:
At the end of a gruelling two-year stretch on tour promoting her third studio album, New Mistakes—a trek that took her to every corner of the world—Terra Lightfoot found herself at home and sapped. Life on the road had done a number on her body, her voice, and her mind, and despite isolating herself from friends and family, sitting down for hours a day at her writing desk, she was coming up with nothing inspiring.

A trip to Nashville changed all that. Just a few weeks in Music City broke the dam wide open. In rapid succession, Lightfoot wrote the songs that would form her new record, Consider the Speed. Out poured more than a dozen, one after the other, reflecting on life as a touring musician, past relationships, and the death of her grandmother. “The healing power of rock ‘n’ roll,” a true blue sentiment that Lightfoot and her bandmates keep the faith in on tour, was in full force.

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