Saturday, May 14, 2011

Album Review: Matt Andersen, Live at the Phoenix

It’s amazing how quickly time flies.  Needless to say, it’s good to be back.  I’m looking forward to a great few months of writing, there are quite a few things in the hopper right now that I’m anxious to post.  Thanks for hanging in there with me!

The first post in a few weeks is the review of an album by an artist that a friend of mine recently watched open a show for Buddy Guy at Massey Hall in Toronto.  Matt Andersen, who hails from the great province of New Brunswick in Canada, is a strong, up-and-coming performer.  Already a highly-decorated, award winning artist at the Maple Blues Awards (Entertainer of the Year and Acoustic Act of the Year), Matt Anderson tours almost continuously, playing his unique style of folk and blues in small theatres and clubs across North America and Europe.  Quite often, these performances involve only the man and his acoustic guitar.  And friends, can he play that guitar.

My friend passed me the album “Matt Andersen – Live at The Phoenix (Busted Flat Records) and asked that I review it for this site.  As I’ve always wanted this site to be interactive with readers submitting suggestions for albums or artists to check out and listen to, I was happy to do so. 

The first thing that struck me when listening to the album was clearly the musicianship.  This gentleman, who by the way comes in at a tiny 6’ 4”, and 400 pounds, can flat out play the guitar.  You will find many different styles of guitar playing on this album.  The lead track, “Better Man Blues” quickly establishes that Matt Andersen is a blues player of the highest order.  The next track, “One Size Never Fits,” seemed to be slightly rushed in finishing.  It’s a good song, but not my favourite on the album.   However, he quickly recovers with a great, scorching song called “I Play the Fool for You.”

Matt steps in to country territory later in the album with “When My Angel Gets the Blues,” which is one of my favourite tracks.  Other key tracks to pay attention to are “So Gone Now”, “Devils Bride” and “If I Can’t Have You.”  To this ear, what makes Matt Andersen stand out from most guitarist/instrumentalists is the different picking styles he possesses.  He moves quite smoothly and flawlessly from a B. B. King style of blues, to easy going country, to Chet Atkins style picking like it’s as natural as breathing for him.  “Matt Andersen – Life at the Phoenixis an excellent album to showcase this young mans’ talents. 

Matt Andersen is gearing up for an extensive tour schedule this summer.  He will be playing at many festivals across North America and the United Kingdom.  Based on this live album, it would be worth your time and money to go and check him out. 

Check out Matt Andersen’s web site for show and ticket information.

You can also check out Matt Andersen’s record label, Busted Flat Records, to purchase Matt’s albums, and to check out other artists on the Busted Flat label.  

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