Matt Andersen: The Big Bottle Of Joy Review

Matt Andersen is a Canadian blues/roots guitarist, singer, and songwriter. While not properly a mainstream act, Andersen has undoubtedly built a superlative reputation and career thanks to years of crafting an admirable album catalog and countless arduous, extensive tours. Showcasing his songwriting chops and soulful vocals once again in the studio arena, he has just released the aptly titled The Big Bottle Of Joy, his latest full-length opus.

The self-produced The Big Bottle Of Joy delivers a batch of 12 songs rooted in Andersen’s trademark style of honest, working man-like Americana. This means that those looking for monster riffs and blistering extended solos might feel the need to look for their treat elsewhere. Much like Andersen’s body of work, this is an album focused on songs and the message they convey. Also named The Big Bottle Of Joy, the talented musicians backing Andersen are Mike Farrington Jr (bass), Geoff Arsenault (drums), Cory Tetford (guitars), Chris Kirby (B3 Hammond organ, keyboards), Kim Dunn (piano, keyboards, B3 Hammond organ), and a trio of scintillating vocalists: Hailey, Micah, and Reeny Smith.

It’s hard not to dance to the sizzling opener “Let It Slide”, which is a superb upbeat blues rocker anchored in infectious vocal hooks and exceptional organ and lead guitar interplay. On the other hand, “Golden”, complemented by lyrics that deal with the delight of newfound love, is an emotional, richly expressive ballad with loads of vocal power from both Andersen and his trio of female vocalists. “How Far Will You Go” is another confident, dancing rocker which highlights the sheer punch of the call-and-response dynamics between Andersen and the Smiths.

There’s also the country and gospel-soaked ballads “Aurora” and “Miss Missing You” impressing for their soul-pouring honesty. Then, the record’s main piece “What’s On My Mind” steps into motion. A mid-tempo funky number driven forward by the infectious chug of its rhythm guitar, the song boasts a big, anthemic chorus in which the layered vocals really shine, gorgeously soaring above the backdrop of the instrumental groove. Add to that uplifting lyrics such as “we’ve got to learn how to live together, we’ve got a whole lot of living to do”, and you have a song with the potential to become iconic.

Highlights elsewhere include the calm shuffle of “Rolling Down the Road” playing out in the vein of J.J. Cale and “Only An Island”, another one of the album’s deeply felt ballads.

On a personal note, given my oddly eclectic taste, I’ve always been fascinated by the esoteric and often pessimistic nature of experimental, doom-laden jazz and extreme metal. However, sometimes I also feel the need to be reminded that life is more than just pain and suffering, and this album does precisely that. There’s a sense of positivity and enthusiasm permeating the record both in the lyrics and music and even the more melancholic numbers include palpable tones of hope and optimism. Those in need to soothe their troubled minds might just find this record to be a strong ally for that purpose.

Adding an important chapter to Matt Andersen’s career, The Big Bottle Of Joy lives up to its title and delivers a top-notch set drenched in inspired songwriting and heartfelt performances.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Let It Slide
– Golden
– How Far Will You Go
– Aurora
– Miss Missing You
– What’s On My Mind

The Big Hit

– What’s On My Mind

Buy the album: Amazon

Fidel Beserra

Fidel Beserra is a professional translator and an occasional writer. As one would expect, he's also an enthusiastic lover of everything music-related.

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