A multi-award winning Bluesman who has toured with such names as Bo Diddly, Buddy Guy and Greg Allman, it seems strange that Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Andersen is not more of a household name. However maybe his latest album, 'Honest Man', can change all that. With an easy listening, Bluesy, radio friendly feel, this could be the collection of songs that brings the mass recognition that would be richly deserved. A relatively short album opens with 'Break Away' which sets the tone perfectly for the next nine songs with it's laid back Summertime feel. It's almost calypso style tells us that, if life's pressures become to hard to handle, it must be time to start again, which gives the album's shortest song the most positive message. Continuing in the same vein, but lower key and with a slightly religious tone, comes 'The Gift', a nicely downplayed vocal reassures us that when all is lost "The Gift Of Life Is All", probably a message that's easier to cope with when you are lucky enough to do what you love for a living, but it's a good song with subtle harmonies from backing singers adding to the overall depth of the track.
Next, it's time to break out the horn section for the title song 'Honest Man'. A personal song, telling of the artists struggles to make his own way in life ("Everybody's Just Serving Themselves, Nobody's Got Time fFor An Honest Man"). It's a great song with a great vocal and one of the album's highlights. If the title track has a great vocal, then track four, 'I'm Giving In' has a simply stunning one. Accompanied only with a piano, it's a sad song which has an almost hymn like quality, starting softly and building to the powerful mid-section before coming full circle. It's the song that perfectly demonstrates the artists vocal abilities and for me, is the stand out track on the CD. Track five, 'Quiet Company', brings a bit of Country into the Bluesy mix - it has a great melody and some subtle slide guitar to go along with that late night easy listening feel. After repeated plays it also reminded me somewhat of solo acoustic Springsteen in the 'Tom Joad, Devils and Dust' eras, which is by no means a bad thing. Another cracking song.
'Let's Get Back', is probably Matt Andersen's shot a being an angry young man. The song tells how his home country is changing, but not for the better, and how life would be if returned to the values of the past. The horn section make a welcome return and there is even a mid-section trumpet solo. If there is a song here made for the radio, then this is it. 'All The Way' sees a return to the low key vocals but adds a slightly funky bass line with some light backing vocals, piano and keyboards, turning a simple song into an instantly catchy tune. Next up is 'Last Surrender', which again uses the horn section to good effect, and is the story of an everlasting love, that endures though all that life can throw at it. Another great, late night, easy listening radio friendly ballad. The penultimate song 'Who Are You Listening To?' is the most uptempo Rocky track on the album in which - through the catchy melody and chorus, we are encouraged not to believe the media hype and make up our own minds - he probably wrote this with politics in mind, but the same context could definitely be used in relation to today's music scene. Another top track. The album's closer, 'One Good Song' is exactly that, a good song about finding and writing that one good song that every artist aspires to. Vocal, piano & flute take pride of place as this well crafted tune takes the CD to its inevitable conclusion.
A real unexpected treat of an album, the only question that lingers is how Mr Andersen is not a household name? Surely this can only be a matter of time? If the live dates throughout May in the U.K. are as good as this album, big things are surely just around the corner for Matt and his easy Country Blues style rock.