Matt Andersen & the Big Bottle of Joy – The Big Bottle of Joy
This collection of 12 songs by Canadian vocalist/guitarist Matt Andersen touches upon tunes that are blues-oriented, rock-inspired, Americana with folk & gospel with a pinch of funk that’s soulful. That’s a mouthful, but it’s all there. The powerful vocalizing in a variety of genres is expertly performed with stirring well-endowed harmonies.
This self-produced LP is Matt’s 10th studio effort & recorded in Nova Scotia. The Big Bottle of Joy (Drops March 10-Sonic Records) is both the name of the CD & the band behind Matt. It features the energetic stirring harmonies of Reeny (also B3 on “Shoes”), Haliey & Micah Smith.
So, out of the gate, this horse is lengths away from the pack. I can’t understand anyone who doesn’t like rollicking music with melody & soul by kick-ass musicians & singers. “Let It Slide,” is full-bodied, it has a stabbing B3 solo in the tradition of Lee Michaels who always embellished his Hammond. But the vibrancy is cohesive throughout this repertoire. Even the slower tunes have a rousing delivery.
Andersen has a good vocal style & while some may compare his ensemble to Sly & the Family Stone I don’t see his group entrenched in a dance-oriented groove as much as adhering firmly to the soulful end of the pool. It may be The Family Stone crossbred with Blood, Sweat & Tears’ David Clayton-Thomas. The chorus of the Smiths is gold. The contrast between their fervor & Andersen’s double-fisted vocal (“How Far Will You Go”) definitely creates an identity for the band.
While there’s a tributary of retro that runs through this the band’s tightness & the arrangements that are set in motion keep the originality running in a deep river of expressive music. “Aurora,” is good but it won’t unseat the old Andrews Sisters’ melodic South of the border 1940s hit of the same name. But it’s nice to see that title in a song again.
Andersen has a vocal dynamic on “What’s On My Mind” which is an example of my reference to David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears without the horns). Also, the inclusion of a Hammond B3 in some songs really fills in the sound with muscle. It’s a neat 4-panel package with a lyrical insert with an illustrated city street at night. Yep. It fits the music.
Musicians – Mike Farrington Jr. (bass), Chris Kirby (B3/Keyboards/Piano/Accordion), Cory Tetford (Guitars), Geoff Arsenault (Drums/Percussion) & Kim Dunn (Piano/Keyboards/B3).
Highlights – “Let It Slide,” “So Low, Solo,” “What’s On My Mind,” “Aurora,” “How Far Will You Go,” “Only An Island” “Rollin’ Down the Road,” “Hands of Time” & “Shoes.”
B&W image courtesy of Gessy & Armel Studios. CD @ http://www.stubbyfingers.ca/store/ + https://alleyesmedia.com/clients/matt-andersen-big-bottle-of-joy/
Enjoy our interview here: Key to the Highway: Matt Andersen