Bluesman discovers his Soulful side
If I’d not heard of Matt Andersen before, this would have been a very easy album to review. But, as I’m a fan, it’s been difficult to find a balance in describing my enjoyment. This album is very, very enjoyable indeed, but nowhere near what I was expecting.
Andersen’s fans know him as predominantly a solo blues guitarist who sings in an extraordinary and gruff way; but on Weightless, he appears to have a band with him. And, his voice now sounds uncannily like a young Joe Cocker, who I’m a huge fan of.
The album opener, I Lost My Way, sounds nothing like anything the fulsome figured Canadian has ever recorded before, as it has a Booker T organ groove snuggling behind Andersen’s immaculate guitar playing and his singing style is as smoky and smooth as a glass of Scotland’s finest export.
On the delightful So Easy, Andersen and Paul Rigby on pedal-steel somehow manage to sound soulful and bluesy rather than country, which you’d expect with steel playing as beautiful as this.
I mentioned Joe Cocker earlier and, if his ‘people’ have anything about them they will pay a Kings’ ransom to include Andersen’s Let’s Go to Bed on Joe’s next album. Though, if there is any justice in the world, this powerful ballad should be a hit in it's own right.
To some degree, Drift Away, owes a debt to the Dobie Gray song of the same name, but this track has a rawness and broken-hearted honesty to it. Plus, its bluesy pedal-steel almost reduced me to tears.
Andersen even gets a little bit funky on City of Dreams, which is powered with a driving drum beat and some seamless guitar licks, as Andersen pays homage to blue collar workers everywhere.
By the time you hear the horn arrangement and backing singers on album closer What Will You Leave?, You will presume that the album was a million-dollar recording in Muscle Shoals, but it’s not. Yet, the quality of songs, arrangements and, most of all, Matt Andersen’s voice will make you believe it was.
WEIGHTLESS was produced by Steve Berlin from Los Lobos, who must be credited with ‘finding’ Matt Andersen’s voice, which is deep, powerful and remarkable in a way that I had never noticed before. Plus, they keep the immaculate guitar-playing just enough in the mix so as not to distract from the singing and the songs, which are all written by Matt Andersen and a host of co-writers.
released US & Canada February 2014
released UK & Europe April 14 2014
True North Records TND587