Singer-songwriter Matt Andersen’s new album, House To House, is something of a return to his roots in its approach. The New Brunswick native’s first albums, 2004’s One Size Never Fits, and 2005’s Solo At Sessions, were live recordings featuring just Matt’s acoustic guitar and his powerful voice. In the intervening years, Matt’s studio albums have become fully-produced affairs with additional instrumentation. House To House is his first studio album with just guitar and voice.
“That’s kind of what I wanted to do,” he said while on the road in Ontario. “Keep it simple and pure. I still love playing solo and doing that kind of show. I like to watch shows like that too.”
A stripped-down treatment to the songs allows the words and melodies space to breath, thus giving the songs a greater emotional impact.
“It’s a great way to put the song at the front,” he said. “There’s nothing else to hide the words behind, right?”
The album was recorded at Matt’s new studio, next to his home in Halifax.
“I built a studio over the pandemic at an old garage at my place,” he said. “It felt like the right thing to do. The guys who built the studio co-wrote the song ‘House To House’ with me. They’re brilliant carpenters.”
Figuring out what recording gear to outfit the studio with was easy. Friend and fellow songsmith Dave Gunning, Chris Kirby who engineered the new album, Matt’s manager Louis Thomas and producer Steve Dawson all have their own studios.
“The world of gear is very extensive, and it’s easy to get lost, so I went right to the sources of people who already tried all that stuff so I didn’t have to do all the trial and error,” he said.
Leading up to the point of producing himself, Matt has worked with many award-winning producers to create his albums. From Matt’s perspective, the likes of Colin Linden, Steve Dawson and Steve Berlin all share the same philosophy of how the performance has to come first.
“I pretty much printed off the lyrics, went in and reacted naturally,” he said. “I didn’t put a whole lot of pre-thought into it. I wanted to be as reactive as possible.”
House To House features co-writes with a number of Matt’s songwriting friends including Terra Spencer, Dave Gunning, Terra Lightfoot, Gordie Sampson and an unintentional co-write with David Francey, ‘Time For The Wicked To Rest'.
“It’s a song he never released,” Matt explained. “He sent me the lyrics of the song, and I hadn’t noticed in the email that he actually sent me the music as well, so I put my own thing on it. I was far off-base from what he sent but he ended up digging it, so we kept it that way.”
Dealing with the imposition of pandemic lockdowns was quite a change for someone who’s always been a bit of a road warrior.
“Once I accepted things weren’t going to happen for a while, it got a lot more easy,” he said. “Just kind of chill out, mow the lawn and watch the leaves change. I haven’t been in the same time zone for this long since I was 15!”
Following a March tour of Quebec and Ontario, Matt’s spending all of May in the U.S., with a European tour set for November.
“It feels like putting on your favourite pair of shoes to be back at it. Being able to travel again is something I’m really ready for", he said.
For more information on Matt Andersen and House To House, go to stubbyfingers.ca.