Matt Andersen Coal Mining Blues

Matt Andersen Coal Mining Blues
Few Canadian blues artists have had as meteoric a career as this hardworking East coast troubadour. He's shifting significant numbers of records and selling out concert dates throughout North America, and his rep will only soar higher with this compelling release. The title track is as stark and dark as the austere album art, but he ups the tempo elsewhere. Andersen made an inspired choice with producer Colin Linden, who assists on much of the songwriting and plays stellar guitar throughout. The outside material chosen is also top-notch: Willie P. Bennett's "Willie's Diamond Joe" and Charlie Rich's "Feel Like Going Home." A-list Toronto players John Sheard, Dennis Pendrith and John Whynot are well-used, as are backing vocalists Amy Helm and Jonell Mosser, sax man Jim Horn and, on one cut, Garth Hudson on accordion. The album was actually recorded at Levon Helm's Woodstock studio, and Andersen does the famed setting justice. The gritty soulfulness of his voice elicits Joe Cocker comparisons on numbers like "She Comes Down," sounding as comfortable in folk and roots settings as on bluesy songs like the Downchild-esque "Heartbreaker." Many of his earlier seven albums have been live, but the move to a full studio setting pays off handsomely here. (Busted Flat)