This is album number eight for Canadian Matt Andersen, although touted as a debut of sorts. Best known as a blues artist, he’s an established independent multi award-winner. Here he expands on the music he makes. Perhaps newly adopted support of a renowned record company, co-songwriters and an expansion of influences inspired the album title Weightless – or an ironic reference to Andersen’s imposing physical presence – a cross between hairy Viking biker and mountain-bred hippie. The songs speak from viewpoints of the uncertain and world-weary, leading the listener toward the light – in both senses – of acceptance, hope and refuge.
Alongside blues-based tracks, Andersen handles soul, Southern rock and country tunes with a natural touch. Vocally, he’s reminiscent of Joe Cocker or Doug Parkinson – that’s an Englishman and an Aussie. While the musical tone is distinctly ‘Northern Hemisphere’, the themes and blending of roots traditions make for an album identifiable in any corner of the globe. Weightless was produced by Steve Berlin with guests including Calgary guitarist Paul Rigby (Neko Case) and co-writing friends Joel Plaskett and Dave Gunning. Complementing Andersen’s own fine guitar work are piano, horns, harmonica and pedal steel. Backing vocals and a tight rhythm section provide a fulsome base uniting the genres explored. The fading fortunes of Detroit inspired ‘City Of Dreams’, which builds to an rousing, obvious live winner. From the title track with its empowering break-out cry (‘Wings don’t fail me now…’) to the gentle advice of ‘So Easy’, it’s an album that’s easy to feel at home with.
By Chris Lambie