The fabulous Canadian blues artist Matt Andersen made his way south of the border for a tour supporting his most recent release, Honest Man, and I was fortunate to be able to see not one but two of his shows! This Club Passim show was the first of those two, and his new album was unfamiliar to me at the time.
There is something about his new music that made it an instant favorite. Every time I listen, a different song leaps at me. Overall, I believe “Let’s Get Back” is number one, but ask me tomorrow and I will have a different response. Andersen is a “gentle giant.” He has a large presence on stage, especially when he throws his head back and lets his long hair fly. And his voice — smooth as silk — fill a room warmly.
His songs are full of powerful lyric verses, as in “The Gift”:
The gift of life is all you’re gonna need
We used to love with open arms
without a question, without alarm
someone’s locked the door and thrown away the key
let’s get back to where we used to be
In addition to his smoooth vocals and so-true lyricism, Andersen is an excellent guitarist. He is ably supported by a band he calls the Bona Fide: Geoff Arsenault on drums, Mike Farrington Jr. on bass, and Chris Kirby on guitar and keyboards. Apparently this is the first time Andersen has toured with a band, and I hope he sticks with them. They round out his songs beautifully.
The group played some songs from Andersen’s earlier recordings, but most of this night’s set drew from Honest Man.
Opening this show – and accompanying Andersen on most of his tour – was part of Lee Harvey Osmond: Tom Wilson and his son Thompson, both fellow Canadians, told stories and sang songs which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story Wilson told about discovering in his 50s that he had been adopted brought tears to my eyes.
But it was Andersen’s music with which I felt a connection I don’t always experience. “It’s so hard these days getting by as an honest man,” he sings, and I think he is doing just fine with that.