Canadian Matt Patershuk sings his country-tinged folk songs in a beautiful, slightly frayed bass baritone that is refreshing in a world of tenors, falsettos and screechers. It helps that the songs are sturdily constructed by Patershuk, and the album recorded with great dexterity by Steve Dawson at his Henhouse studio in Nashville.

Patershuk seems to be a bit of a late starter, as this is his second album of a career that only got started in 2011. He writes and sings like a veteran, though, proving once again that the best songs are highly specific and thus universal. Specifically, this album revolves around the tragic death of Patershuk’s sister Clare, killed by a drunk driver in 2013. In the title track he croons an ode to her to a slow, sad waltz tune, while he uses another number, “Harviestown,” to fantasize about taking revenge on her killer.

Mortality is a thematic streak through many of the songs, including “Mean Coyotes” about the gruesome end of a broken-down horse, “Little Guitar” a ballad about an instrument played by a broken veteran, and “Pep the Cat-Murdering Dog,” a truth-based tale about the execution of a canine for the death of a prison warden’s feline. “Burnin’ The Candle At Both Ends” is a spiffy honky-tonk shuffler, “Prettiest Ones” an ode to good songs, and “Smoke A Little Cigarette” a swinging bit of bad mental health advice.

The album ends on a tender note, another love song to his sister and the “Tennessee Walker” she once loved.

Here’s a video of a live duo recording of “Burnin’ the Candle At Both Ends.”

 

I Was So Fond of You was essentially recorded live with no separation. It’s played by a crack band featuring Dawson on all kinds of guitars, the multi-talented Fats Kaplin on fiddle, mandolin, banjo, accordion and more, and with Anna Egge providing lovely harmonies. Beautifully packaged. Highly recommended.