Matt Andersen 2022
Photo: Scott Doubt / Courtesy of Red Umbrella PR

Canadian Blues Artist Matt Andersen Finds His Softer Side On ‘House to House’

Matt Andersen’s House to House is the product of a talented blues musician who wants to express what’s in his heart and mind during these difficult times.

House to House
Matt Andersen
Sonic Records
15 February 2022

Matt Andersen is a large man with a booming voice who sings the blues with power and passion. The Canadian has traveled the world and won prestigious international awards for his live shows and recordings. He’s recognized as a serious presence on the stage and in the studio and usually performs with others. This time he’s (mostly) going it alone, just his voice and acoustic guitar. Even on the songs where other artists contribute, they are in the background. Andersen wanted it this way. He self-produced the record.

As Andersen puts it in the album notes, House to House features the softer side of the bluesman. That’s not to say it’s a quiet album. Andersen never whispers or coos. However, he takes a gentle approach to the songs. There’s a tranquility to the music. He skillfully fingers his guitar strings with refinement. Andersen’s voice remains calm and composed even when the emotionally content may suggest a more passionate expression. Andersen knows that holding a feeling in check can be more potent than just letting it out. That’s especially true of the more personal songs as compared to the ones that are more socially oriented.

On his remake of the chestnut “People Get Ready” and on “Time for the Wicked to Rest”, Andersen employs a gospel choir and loudly laments the evil in the world. The songs make a general sense. It’s hard to wait for judgment day. Who doesn’t want the righteous to rule and the wicked to be punished? Andersen’s spiritual yearnings are clear and communal, but he’s much more communicative when he sensitively sings of love, as on “Let Me Hold You” and “See This Through”. His delivery is more intimate and personal as it befits the topic of romantic feelings.

Sometimes Andersen takes what seems to be the opposite side of blues conventions on such songs as “On the Other Side of Goodbye”. He starts the song by singing in a loud, plaintive voice, but he quiets down as the track gets to the end. (Usually, blues tracks build up in intensity.) Other cuts, such as “Peace of Mind”, go from calm to hushed. Andersen neatly lets the tranquility build up as he searches for inner serenity.

Andersen finds more to cry about than to celebrate in this world. He sings the “Coal Mining Blues” and about otherworldly concerns. Even the title song, “House to House”, whines more about waiting for a good time than the thrill of experiencing it. The happiest cut, “Raise Up Your Cup”, suggests the promise of pleasure but puts it in the context of not having experienced one in quite a long time. Sure, one might appreciate a night of intimate fun with another more after being alone for some time, but there is something negative about the merriment. The song’s protagonists are a bit too sloppy and perhaps desperate in their longings.

House to House seems a modest affair. It doesn’t seem ambitious as much as the product of a talented musician who just wants to express what’s in his heart and mind during these difficult times. That’s the true roots of the blues and successfully executed here.

RATING 7 / 10
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