Matt Andersen, The Big Bottle of Joy Review
by Constance Tucker
Matt Andersen is a blues guitarist and singer-songwriter from Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, Canada, signed to True North Records. The Juno Award nominee is releasing his 2023 album, The Big Bottle of Joy. The album is about hard-won exuberant celebration. Andersen wrote all the songs for the record for this same group of people, and he tailored moods and arrangements, and sections to elevate the already considerable talents of each player. The approach gave them the best possible scenario to record live off the floor at The Sonic Temple, and the individual performances – shot through with the kind of dynamism that can only come from being in a room together – flow seamlessly into each other.
The opening song, “Let It Slide,” has Andersen’s bluesy vocals encouraging us to be good to each other with an organ and guitar-drenched backdrop. Andersen’s lead vocals are combined with the backing vocal harmony power of the Smiths: Reeny, Haliey, and Micah. The three sisters have beautiful soulful harmonies to add honey to Andersen’s spice. Drummer Geoff Arsenault provides a resounding feel for all the vocalists to bounce upon.
Andersen has a theme of celebration of life throughout the album. “How Far Will You Go” has a steady blues-rock pattern and a catchy call-and-response melody between Andersen and the Smiths. The blues form is augmented with a bridge and an excellent C section. Andersen testifies to something we could all do well to remember: our time together is unique, so let’s spend it the right way.
The Big Bottle of Joy has twelve selections that feature Andersen’s raw rock-blues lead vocals and the Smiths’ buzzing vocal harmonies. Each piece uses vocal harmonies as both a feature part of the arrangement and as subtle backing colors.