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Matt Patershuk’s Grandad used to say: “God loves a trier”. He didn’t mean it in the way televangelist preachers do; who often say in not so many words: “If you pray the right way (and tithe appropriately), God will open limitless financial, health, and career benefits before you.” He meant that there is worth, and value in trying. The act of making an effort is redemptive, despite the outcome.

This record is called An Honest Effort. You’ll find stories on this album about folks trying. In the face of unfavourable odds, with seemingly certain unfavourable outcomes, they give it a good go. Results vary, but all of them are better off for the attempt.

Matt is a singer and songwriter first. He values simplicity but also loves to incorporate the small details that bring a story to life and make it relatable. Though his songs aren’t devoid of metaphor, you’ll not be left guessing about what the song is about when you’re done listening.

Here are some track highlights:

“Johanna” is a story about a lost woman. The narrator hopes she gets lost the best way that she can.

“Turn the Radio Up”. Is about life together in middle age. It’s more difficult than it was when you were young, but it’s still just as good.

“Jupiter the Flying Horse” is about a Barnum & Bailey circus act stallion who falls in love with someone below his social station.

“The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics” is all about entropy, the certainty that objects in the universe tend toward disorder. This is Mat’s 2nd song based on this particular set of physical laws; it is a follow up to “Memory & the First Law of Thermodynamics” from a few years ago.

“Sunny” is a woman trapped in a bad situation. She should split. What does she do?

“Afraid to Speak Her Name” This song is like a little painting. A song that just describes a small scene. No chorus. No instrumental theme. Steve Dawson paints the same picture with a Weissenborn guitar after I finish singing.

Like all Black Hen releases, this record is full of fine musicians making good sounds. Steve Dawson plays the guitar, pedal steel, and Weissenborn, painting musical pictures that are a great counterpoint to the lyrics. Jeremy Holmes adds such fantastic groove, touch and taste on the bass and mandolin. Rock solid Gary Craig lends wonderfully inventive percussion. Keri Latimer’s tuneful and airy voice is a great foil to Matt’s earthy one. Fats Kaplin contributes wizardry on fiddle, ukelele, banjo, and harmonica

With the musical talent that surrounds the songs on this record, heartfelt vocals, and inventive yet relatable subject matter, this is Matt’s best record to date.

This record feels good. I think Matt’s Grandad was right.


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