Published Sep 20, 2011Matt Andersen seems like someone who, long ago, would have been the subject of folk songs rather than someone who sang them. A giant of a man, with a voice to match, the New Brunswick native (now based in Cape Breton) has firmly established himself over the past year as one of Canada's brightest new roots music stars. In 2010 alone, he became the first Canadian to win the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, which quickly led to an opening stint for Old Crow Medicine Show. The increasing hype surrounding him has been justified with this new full-length, produced by Colin Linden and recorded at Levon Helm's Woodstock, NY studio. Coal Mining Blues showcases all of Andersen's many strengths, both as a singer and guitarist, from funky country blues workout "Make You Stay" to the gospel-tinged "Baby I'll Be There." But the album's underlying theme is best summed up by the title track, a workingman's anthem that also reflects Andersen's approach to his career up to this point. There's nothing fancy about what Andersen does, but his passion and commitment continue to win over loyal fans with each show. Coal Mining Blues is sure to satisfy all of them, and attract many more.
Did you feel any pressure making this album, given the great strides you've made in the past year?
It was something I was certainly aware of, but I always try to let albums grow organically when I make them. I'm on the road a lot, so I'm not one of these people who write constantly. I have to take some time off and get in that headspace. Having Colin [Linden] produce this one was great, because I got to spend some time hanging out with him at his home in Nashville, which prepared me really well for the actual recording sessions.
It seems every tour finds you playing in bigger venues. Has that been a bit overwhelming?
No, not really. I've been getting to do a lot of stuff that I've dreamed of doing, like a national tour and recording with Colin at Levon's studio. I've always just taken things as they come.
Your blue-collar personality is something audiences really connect with. Where does that come from?
I grew up in a small town and both of my folks are self-employed. But the song "Coal Mining Blues" came out of living in Cape Breton for the past year-and-a-half, even though most of the guys who worked in the mines here have had to take on different roles in the community. That hardworking East coast vibe is just something that was bred into me. (Busted Flat)