You certainly can’t accuse Matt Andersen of complacency. Honest Man finds the thoughtful Canadian singer-songwriter in experimental mood, mixing an organic approach with contemporary technology – drum loops and beats – alongside hip-hop producer and co-writer Gordon Williams.
Where his previous Juno-nominated album Weightless provided accessibility via catchy hooks and an emotive landscape, Honest Man is a pitch for the mainstream. The result is good in parts, with tracks like the earthy phrasing and uplifting hook of The Gift being a perfect example of his craft.
The title track emphasises a diversity born of several different songwriting collaborations, in this case with the nascent R&B star Chris Kirby on a soulful track full of syrupy funk, a mighty vocal and punchy horn section, his voice an exercise in understated power.
The song mirrors an album full of well-crafted songs with an emotional depth, as evidenced by the piano-led ballad I’m Giving In. Quiet Company is all subtle textures and nuanced pedal steel, while the Sam Cooke-influenced Last Surrender taps into the current soul revival. His vocal on the nostalgic Let’s Get Back could be Gregg Allman, while All The Way revisits a funky groove on a relationship song with real feel.
The downside is his heartfelt songs will probably be judged by the more unforgiving world of unit sales rather than artistic integrity.