Art Garfunkel was a math student during a chunk of his musical career with Paul Simon, while blues legend Albert King operated a bulldozer and worked a series of other construction jobs into middle age. La Glace, Alberta's Matt Patershuk works for a bridge building company during weekdays, leaving evenings open to write and perform his original roots music. If the comparison seems risible, consider that most musicians through history have been amateurs, with only few managing to make the leap into full time playing, often after years of scrabbling to make a living in their preferred field. Thing is, Patershuk is somewhat indifferent to the idea of music as a way of life. "It's not such a bad thing to have a foot in both worlds," the singer-songwriter muses over the phone from his desk job in Northern Alberta. "Creating any art can be a bit of a navel gazing enterprise, and sometimes you need another perspective to keep things healthy. I mean, look at King; he drove CATS until he was 45, and it didn't seem to hurt him too much." Bringing Albert King into the conversation makes sense for the purpose of this article as Patershuk, a man who readily acknowledges his fixation on folkies such as Guy Clark and John Prine, has recently been taking a turn towards the blues. You can hear it all over his latest release, Same As I Ever Have Been, his third record with producer and guitarist Steve Dawson, and the first to see him loosening up stylistically. Hooking up with Dawson at Bryan Adams' Warehouse Studio, Patershuk surrounded himself with such heavy players as drummer Jay Bellerose (sideman for T-Bone Burnett, Elton John, Joe Henry, and Robert Plant), John Reischman (mandolin), Ana Egge (vocals), Chris Gestrin (keyboards), and bassist Jeremy Holmes. The results speak for themselves as Patershuk wraps plain spoken vocals against such blues-infected tracks as the horn-dotted Sometimes You've Got To Do Bad Things To Do Good, or the greasy Cheap Guitar. Tales of blue collar lives (Blank Pages and Lost Wages) butt up against unblinking character portraits (Memory and the First Law of Thermodynamics), country folds into blues and then into folk as genres dissolve into one another. Listening to the record you wonder why Patershuk took so long to let himself experiment. "It was Steve that encouraged me," Patershuk admits. "He knows that I like a lot of different music, so he pushed me to start writing blues tunes. Over the years he's really influenced me to open up to different musical possibilities. To me it feels like there's a partnership in what we do, and how we work on my songs." Patershuk is also quick to pay respects to the assembled musicians on Same As I Ever Have Been. "Jay (Bellerose) was really important to the process; he added a spirited creativity and different musical feel to the sessions. All of the musicians were important, actually." He laughs. "I know that I'm nowhere near as gifted as any of them, and it's hard to not feel inadequate around players like that, but I made a conscious effort to try and act like that wasn't the case. I faked being confident, but the truth is that none of them looked down on me for my lack of musicianship. At that level I think most musicians tend to be very committed to the project; that's why they're there." The same goes for Dawson, who Patershuk sees as a collaborator who carefully nudges him along through the process, helping to streamline and clarify while not overstepping. The two have been slowly building their relationship since 2013's Outside the Lights of Town, with Dawson inviting Patershuk onboard of his Black Hen Music roster for 2015's I Was So Fond Of You. "There's a level of trust and friendship that we've got now. It helps that he's there, because in the short time that we're recording we'll be able to take care of the odd variables and problems that crop up. He's not a control freak, either; what he's good at is creating conditions for people to be creative. He's also great at picking the right people and giving them direction on the fly, while also giving them lots of room to do their own thing." He's also adept at giving succinct advice on the hard calls when necessary. "Normally he doesn't really mess with my lyrics, but on the song Atlas, which is on the new album, I was worried about a line that had an expletive in it. He said that if I was going to say it I needed to own it; I elected to say it." Patershuk won't be booking a heavy touring schedule across the country anytime soon. He's established a comfortable life up north that allows him to perform on weekends, and a vantage point from which to craft his well-honed songs at his own pace. Rave record reviews from the likes of No Depression and American Root Magazine might warm the ego, but they don't pay the mortgage. Lucky for us he's content to work on the craft, releasing records every two years to his growing audience of admirers. "It's a good balance, you know? I'm happy with the way that it's unfolded," he says, and indeed he does sound pleased. "I'm lucky to make records, and I feel lucky any time there's anyone in the room to hear me play. I'm lucky to have the musicians that play with me. My co-workers probably shake their heads and consider me odd, and they're probably right in that assessment, but I think they also get it. Being on the margins, watching the world and writing about it, I'm really blessed to be doing it."