For the hard-touring Matt Andersen, it would seem that this title is long overdue but as you listen to the songs, you discover he assigns different meanings for ‘home’. And for these songs, he has assembled an all-star cast. First the songs themselves: as has become standard practice for Andersen, they are almost all co-writes and these writers are stars by themselves, ensuring a high quality. He then brought on none other than Steve Dawson to produce and play his various guitars. Add in the fabulous McCrary Sisters to harmonize with his ‘room-shaking, heart-quaking’ voice, a horn section and a superb studio band and you are halfway home already. His by now trademark blend of soul, blues and R&B starts the show off with “What Would Your Mama Say” (written with Craig Northey). It’s a toe-tapper of a cautionary tale of a friend’s misbehavior with a short, pungent electric slide solo from Dawson. “Free Man” is the first single, written again with Northey, He’s a free man when he’s on the road – great horns on this rocker. Things slow down for a lovely country duet with Amy Helm, who also helped write it. “Something to Lose” has Dawson on pedal steel and lovely horns. There’s a video for this on YouTube. The blues part of the blend arrives with “The Bed I Made”, an apology to his partner for his personal failings. A soul highlight is “Give Me Some Light”, written with Tom Wilson & Jesse O’Brien. He makes a call to Mom as his partner leaves. Dawson helped write “(Gonna Be) Better Than You Want (Me to Be)”, an even bluesier song with some quite wonderful sax work from Jim Hoke over Dawson’s acoustic slide. The oddly titled “Help Yours Elf” is a co-write with Terra Lightfoot. This one calls on you to make your own way most persuasively, with Hoke on sax, Dawson on electric slide and a wonderfully tuneful chorus – the held note at the end is magnificent. The closest we get to the title is “Take Me Back”, written with fellow Maritimers Ross Neilsen & Chris Kirby. The son who left home hopes he’s accepted there still. With thirteen songs on this generous album, Andersen will have a raft of new songs for his shows. The last studio album, Honest Man, was hugely successful and with songs like these, tailor-made for his huge, expressive voice, he’s bound to do even better. He’s touring across the pond this month and the official release date for Halfway Home by Morning is March 22nd. Circle May 10th in your calendar because he’ll be appearing at the Danforth Music Hall with Amy Helm. Check out www.stubbyfingers.ca to see all the tour dates, this guy never stops.

March 2019 - Sean Pinchin
Top Blues - March 2019