Canadian artist Matt Andersen’s last album, Weightless, was a blues tour de force, and it sounded like Andersen’s voice was made for the genre. On his latest album, Honest Man, it turns out that blues wasn’t the only type of music that suits him. Honest Man has influences from gospel and soul, and Andersen sounds even more comfortable with those, if that’s possible.
As befits those genres, this album often sounds almost joyous – it is definitely weighted towards songs in major keys. The title track is a gutsy tune whose lyrics are darker than its tone – frankly, it’s a toe-tapper and it took a little while to realise that the lyrics are more about being downtrodden than lifted up.
Andersen gives expression to the lower reaches of his voice – in notes and emotion – on the dirge-like ‘I’m Giving In’, which is the most arresting song on the album, showcasing the range of his vocal ability. ‘Last Surrender’ is a slow swing seduction and ‘One Good Song’ is a beautiful closing track about what is sacrificed in the pursuit of a life in music.
This is an incredibly accessible album – it doesn’t require knowledge of gospel or soul (or blues, because there’s a still a bit of that) to appreciate it, and Andersen’s voice always sounds like an invitation, because it’s big and warm and open. For fans who prefer the depths of the blues, this album won’t reinforce any bad-moodyness – but nor will it sound so unfamiliar that it can’t be enjoyed. And for those who are new to Andersen, it’s an excellent introduction.
Honest Man is out now.