Fantastic pure country from Canadian artist Matt Patershuk, a global country star just waiting to happen. Matt Patershuk's second album, produced by award-winning Steve Dawson at the helm at his studio in Nashville, exposes a wonderful baritone that belongs to a different time, a breath of fresh air to much of today's conveyor belt country music. Think Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kristofferson and John Prine territory. A real find. Every syllable, every word, every nuance of these 11 self-penned songs is honest and believable.
Every track resontates deep inside, the emotional connection and inner calm it creates is not to be underestimated. He will get under your skin. He is the real deal. Listening to Matt's voice and this unashamed country record, reminded me of the recent chat I had with the legendary Loretta Lynn, about how hard it is to find real country on the radio these days. How it is all pop and if it doesn't have a pick up truck or a tractor in the lyric, it ain't gonna get played. Well Ms. Loretta, please let me introduce you to Mr. Patershuk and his glorious album.
Matt's vocal has an audible ache to it, a yearning, an honesty, zero pretence and as natural as the snow on the Canadian Rockies. It represents a reserve and a toughness, but there is a softness and tenderness too beneath the surface. The songs document turning points or uncomfortable interludes in their subject's lives. Most unusual topic of any song must go to Pep The Cat Murdering Dog, an apparently true tale (get it?) of Pep the black labrador, sent to the State Penitentiary in 1927 for killing the State Governor's wife's cat! Woof justice? (Sorry.)
I love the sentiment in Little Guitar, "You can't make a fist when you're playing guitar, singing songs about your Red River Home." Music being the last bastion of sadness. Matt's own guitar has survived since it was built in 1946. Harviestown and the title cut, I Was So Fond Of You, both touch on personal tragic loss, when his talented artist sister Clare was killed by a drunk driver in 2013. I know how that feels. My 42 year old sister-in-law lost her life in the same way some years ago. Such a terrible waste. It is patently clear that substance matters here over style, but nothing comes across as self indulgent. Nothing.
Mike Bub on upright bass, Gary Craig on drums, Fats Kaplin on fiddle and Ana Egge's backing vocal, provide the oh so perfect icing on Matt's beautifully baked musical cake, of which there are many layers.
Just like the best of Mary Berry's mouth watering creations; you will want more. Best country album of 2016 thus far for me, and very hard to beat.