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myrandomjukebox

Review and Interview by MyRandomJukebox

Last year I featured Matt Steady, and his album ‘Blood is Thicker than Gold’ which I feel is something that was created for the love of music and not just something that fits the current trends. This is a musician who creates audio art which is right for him and just about not what the world of music wants. To find out more about this album then check out the feature Introducing Matt Steady.
Matt is now back with his new offering ‘Feels Liking Coming Home’ which became reality thanks to a very successful fan funded project with PledgeMusic. But before I talk about this collection of songs I want to share a little chat that I had with him. We talked about the Pledge campaign, the album process and what he has planned for the future. This is what he had to say:

How did it feel that this album was helped to become a reality thanks to your fans?
The PledgeMusic campaign really felt like a team effort – it was an amazing experience! It was so much fun sharing progress with the group and we discussed lots of things like the artwork and musical direction. Coming from full-time work in a project team, DIY music could have been quite a lonely experience when you write the songs yourself, record them, produce them, mix, master, release etc. Making it bigger than me made it much more special. I actually knew 99% of the people who pre-ordered and bought rewards by name – they may like my music, but I would prefer to call them friends rather than fans. I don’t have vast tracts of unknown listeners – we’re actually more like a little musical community, including quite a lot of other musicians which is great!

What were your goals when you began working on your new album ‘Feel Like Coming Home’?
My goals changed as I went along. I knew as soon as I had finished ‘Blood is thicker than gold’ that I would write another album. I had a couple of songs that I felt really deserved to be an album, but I hadn’t quite managed to capture the right spirit when I recorded them and they needed a rethink. I also had quite a few ideas for new songs too. But then when I decided to leave full-time work, the goalposts moved. I had a long notice period, as I wanted to finish off a particular big and important project, so while I kept writing and recording in my spare time, I was also saving and planning ahead. When I did finally finish work at the end of August, I had all the songs written and most of them I had recorded skeletons to work around. 3 months full-time solid hard graft finished off the recording and finalising everything so it was released in December. At the start, of course I wanted to make the best album I could. By the end, I knew that if I were to stand any chance of being a full-time musician, I had to make a belter! It had to be able to stand up along side other records from full-time professionals and not look or sound amateur in any way. The stakes were raised, and with them came pressure. Pressure from myself, not anyone else!

What were some of the major highs and lows while you were working on the album?
Co-writing “Steel and Rust” with Darren Ellis was a lot of fun! We wrote the song, recorded it and gigged it the same evening. It normally takes me weeks to do that! I released a cover of Hurt midway just as a change of pace for my vocals and a kind of tribute to Johnny Cash, and the positive feedback on it was so overwhelming that I had to fit it into the album! That was very encouraging. Lows? There was one point where I had 10 songs recorded and I listened to them all in a row and just thought ‘love the songs, but they just don’t gel together’. That was a bit upsetting actually, but I dusted myself down and worked out ways of making the overall sound across the songs a bit more cohesive and consistent. So for instance, I put some dobro on a few tracks that it wasn’t originally intended to be on, and that had a magical effect helping to tie them together with that similarity. Also taking the purely acoustic Indecision and adding a string section and again dobro stopped it sticking out like a sore thumb.
The crowd-funding itself had major ups and downs too! It’s so much work if you actually do it properly rather than just “post and hope”. It went off like a rocket at the beginning – there were quite a lot of people raring to go who pledged almost immediately, so we were pretty much half-funded within a few days! Then it flat-lined for quite a while which was really worrying. I had known it was likely to happen, but still! Then near the end it suddenly went off again when a few big-ticket rewards were sold, and then there was such a sense of relief!
Ordering the CD manufacturing is really nerve-racking. You’ve checked and double-checked everything, but what happens if the CDs won’t play? Or if there’s a grammatical error on the sleeve notes? Or they come out the wrong colour? When they finally arrived, and they looked amazing and played fine, again I was greatly relieved! It feels so good holding that CD in your hands…

While listening to the final version of the album, what emotions and thoughts were going on?
Honestly? More relief than joy or excitement. Thank goodness it’s what I hoped for. There were no surprises. It’s a bit different for me. Because I do the mastering and final stages, I already know exactly what it sounds like. A lot of musicians will hear the recordings in the studio, then one day will hear a mastered version of the album that is so much clearer and louder and more awesome that they have that kind of YES!!! moment, but not me. Just relief!

Now that the album is loose on the world, what are your future plans for your music?
Oh I’m really excited about what’s starting! I’m planning on releasing the next album in 6 months (the other two took a full year), and I doing something completely different that I haven’t seen anyone do before. When people buy an album, they normally hear the final polished product and are amazed at the genius skills and voodoo magic that the musicians must have had to be able to create it.
This is so not the case! You start off with unfinished lyrics, bad melodies, banging them out hesitantly on an acoustic guitar. Then you gradually refine them, record demos, arrange them, rearrange them, rewrite them. Then there’s the whole recording process which is fascinating and when you see it in action it takes away some of the mystique.
I’ve started a video log which I’m going to keep up for the 6 months taking you all the way from writing a bunch of songs right to the final stages. It is warts and all. You’ll hear me play stuff live that I’m still writing, making all sorts of mistakes and duff notes. You’ll hear the songs evolve and get to help choose which ones make the cut for the album. You’ll see everything. All the little tricks of the trade in the recording and production processes. Every bit of the graft and polishing required to make a great-sounding record. I want other musicians just starting out to be able to watch this and think ‘hey – I could do this!’ and be inspired. I want listeners to realise that musicians are just normal people with a set of skills that they’ve honed over decades and a lot of hard work. And I think as a community of friends, we’ll be able really work together on the project in a much more detailed and open way than even the PledgeMusic campaign was for ‘Feels like coming home’. It’s going to be awesome!
It is going to be completely free. However, if people enjoy what I’m posting and finding it useful, I will be accepting tips! I’ll be posting the videos up primarily on my official Facebook page, and copying them onto YouTube. However the best place to actually get involved with all the discussion is in our Facebook group ‘Blood is thicker than gold’. That’s where we really get into it! Only join this group if you’re wanting to be a part of the process and get stuck in!

The best way for me to describe Matt’s new album is ‘ruggedly eclectic’ and this is a big compliment, let me explain why. This is yet another album which takes you on a journey with the different sounds it has to offer ranging from folk/Americana through to a captivating Celtic tone. This wide ranging soundtrack is delivered to you by an array of instruments that include bagpipes, fiddles, guitars, harmonicas and more. These are all performed by Matt himself, showing more of his musical talents which is evident on the superb instrumentals ‘No More Blood in this Stone’ and ‘Zikaras Lament’.
Adding to this are his stories which are shared by his raspy, rough around the edges vocal style, but this gives his music an authentic charm which ‘One more Round’ demonstrates. I don’t normally talk about covers but I do like his cover of ‘Hurt’ as it fits his sound and this makes it stand out for me.
Overall, this is another album which confirms the talent that Matt Steady has to offer. If you need more convincing then head over to his Bandcamp page to listen to the album in full. You can also listen to his previous release there as well as his new EP ‘Live at the Big Comfy’ which can all be purchased.

I am looking forward to catching up on the videos that Matt Steady has shared so far during the recording process of his new music. Think it is going to be a fascinating journey to follow and hearing how it all grows into the new album. You can keep up to date with this on his YouTube or Facebook pages and I’m sure there will also be updates on Twitter and his website at Matt Steady.com. All of these sites are also great places to find out about upcoming shows.
It’s the likes of Matt Steady who make me really appreciate what independent and unsigned musicians create. They follow their own path and create what is true to them. For them to continue to do so, they need our help to spread the word and support the music. So go tell the world about your favourites TODAY!

appetizerradio

Review by Appetizer Radio

Steady Progress: Feels Like a Worthy Sequel

Matt Steady, transatlantic tri-virtuoso, emerged in 2015 with Blood is Thicker than Gold. I call him a “tri-virtuoso” because he seemed far more adept at rhythmic western rock, American-style roots blues, and Celtic-inspired folk music than many people who specialize in just one of these genres. After an interview, I was still left wondering what direction this newcomer to the recording scene would go with his promised second album. Feels Like Coming Home is far from disappointing in its continuation of Matt’s exploration and innovative genre-blending “visits” spanning the British aisles and the American west.

A musician honing the craft of album-building inevitably has to grapple with their priorities. Sure, countless decisions go into the construction of every individual song: which lyrics, which instruments to use, and the gear that will be in the recording room, to name but a few. These occur on the micro scale, a place where small artistic choices and daily executive decisions make the difference between chart toppers, indie masterpieces, and the rest. But on a broader level, the solo artist has to deal with having absolute control of how the record is put together. Will the energy build throughout, leading to a climactic – perhaps noisy – finish? Should the artist favor a more balanced approach, or do rhythm and pacing ultimately take backseats to lyrical theme progressions? Intelligent people butt heads over these things all the time in bands, but the solo musician has the weight of the final call all alone.

Steady, though not one to be too rigorous about structure over quality, has loosely grouped the album into two halves, whether or not by design. From the first six or seven songs, you’d be forgiven for assuming the whole record is a character study on a wandering man – he hits the bottle in “Hello old friend” (track 1), spins the dice in “One More Round” (2), and thinks recurrently of his family in tracks 3-6. We have the impression of a blue-collar vagabond, maybe the down-on-his-luck Roamer from Steady’s first compilation, making his way as a family man for the first time.

Everything changes, however, with those first ethereal notes of track 8, “1946.” In just two minutes, we traverse an intimidating soundscape that is transformed from an enigmatic mist of ambience into a vibrant Celtic violin soliloquy and culminating in its last two minutes with a driving electric guitar that falls back into the mists again with a light piano accompaniment. And if this weren’t enough variety to convince you of Steady’s range, the next track returns to western-sounding acoustic guitar for “Indecision,” which can’t help but bring strings back into the spotlight.

From here, it’s like the master has taken off his blindfold and freely mixes stylistic influences. Crith Gablach is an alien voyage back in time to the earliest days of Irish society, the title a reference to an Irish tract that endorsed the social, cultural and legal separation of commoners and nobility. Despite occurring in a time and place almost entirely unlike the presumed setting of the first half, that idea of class differentiation seems all too familiar to the persona Steady has constructed so meticulously before now. The subject matter of an important antique document was not chosen at random to clash with the ideas put forth in the work prior to this song. The last three songs are a whirlwind; “Last grand piano in Gaza” (track 11) uses strumming acoustics in harmony with fiddle and drum to tell a tale of ruin, only to give way to an assertive cover of “While my guitar gently weeps” (12) and an inspired violin solo that lasts for over six minutes (13).

Writing album reviews is ordinarily a challenge to find something interesting to say about twelve or so tracks that all sound somewhat alike. The challenge with Matt’s work is to avoid writing an entire page about each song and finding the threads that bind the tracks into a fully fleshed-out composition. I have to admit that I wasn’t grabbed too strongly on my first pass through Feels because of what I expected after Blood blew me away. This is a record that begs to be listened to, if not in its entirety in one big sitting, then in pieces compared against one another and within the whole. By now we’re past the point of debating Steady’s skill. It would take some ludicrous distortion to portray him as someone who can’t play his many instruments with competence and expertise. We might discuss the way he arranges the song order, but the construction of each as a work of art is not a topic I’d give much ground on. To be sure, I’m a fan of Matt Steady – even though the genres he works within may not be everyone’s top choices, it would be a great disservice not to respect the powerhouse performance he’s producing with each new album he releases.

Matt Steady is a name everyone needs to know! Steady a singer-songwriter who hails from Leicester, England, this incredibly talented bloke is classically trained in piano, violin and in music theory however he grew restless and frustrated with the “notes on the page” philosophy which led him to pick up the guitar, emulating the blues legends by ear instead. Steady’s sound has a beautiful blend of rustic, raw, folk and bluesy gritty goodness to it, If you get the chance to hear him play a live show, I am told you will not be disappointed, in his live show’s Steady style draws from his blues and folk tones, however any genre goes when he is in the studio. For years Steady performed what he describes as “extra-ordinary covers“, he has experienced enough joy and heartache in life allowing him to write genuine and honest, non-bullshit lyrics. Steady doesn’t discriminate the genres, drawing from the electric blues to the agonising acoustic singer-songwriter tracks, from beautifully moving Celtic tones and traditional folk. What I love about Steady’s sound, is that every track is uniquely different.

I absolutely love the way he blends the genres and that raspy gritty tone he has, I can guarantee that once you hear his albums, he will have you hook, line and sinker. Currently Steady has two albums the first of which is called ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Gold‘ which was released in September 2015. His second album ‘Feels like coming home‘ was just released this month (Dec 2016) both albums are crackers and would make someone very happy this Christmas. Matt has taken some time out of his busy schedule and answered our Skatronixxx Fresh Music Friday Q&A, check it out below.

Presh: When did your love and passion for music start?

Matt Steady: Well I certainly enjoyed music from a very early age – singing and playing violin and piano, choirs and orchestras etc. But love and passion? I don’t think I ever felt that strongly about it until I heard the Beatles when I was about 12 and realised there was a whole world of music out there that I hadn’t experienced. I played the Beatles records over and over again. Then Dire Straits and Clapton. Anything with guitars in! At home, I always had the stereo on, and I had my Walkman with me everywhere else (cassettes of course!). I spent so many hours trying to pick out Clapton licks on my guitar – loved his work in particular.

Presh: If you could only use one word to describe your sound, what would be?

Matt: Roots – Lots of different types of roots mind! Folk, blues, Celtic, gospel, Americana. I love all these different sounds and they all come out when I’m writing and mingle together.

Presh: What has been your most memorable musical moment so far?

Matt: For my fortieth birthday, my wife Abi organised a gig for me. She’d told me she needed me to play a few songs at her school I think, some pretence to make sure I’d practice! Then she drove me to a beautiful venue and it was full to the brim with friends and family, and my daughter and I sang our hearts out for a couple of hours. It was so special seeing the love and enjoyment coming back from everyone. I’ve done many bigger, scarier things, live radio etc., but that has been my favourite so far!

Presh: Being classically trained in both piano and violin and having studied music theory, has that help the songwriting process or has it always come naturally?

Matt: In a way it has. I don’t think about chord progressions, scales, notes, dynamics or any kind of musical theory when I write my songs, but I believe that my background allows me to do all that subconsciously so I can concentrate on the emotional landscape and the lyrics. I also play and record a lot while writing, which I find inspires the songwriting process. Because of my many years playing, I can pretty seamlessly switch between a wide variety of instruments and pick what needs to be played to bring out the themes and the right environment for the song.

Presh: So you released your latest album in Feels Like Coming Home in July of this year, and let me just say, it’s a brilliant album. What is next for you and what can we might we expect in 2017?

Matt: So glad you like it! It’s been the result of an entire year’s worth of evening and weekends working really hard at it. I actually left my full-time job at the end of August, so I did have a couple of months full-time polishing it and getting it absolutely bang on. I was very lucky to be able to do that – I’d saved up enough money to tide me over and people were so very generous in pre-ordering the album and buying other rewards on my PledgeMusic campaign too.
2017 is going to be a massive year. It will determine whether I am a part-time hobbyist or a professional musician. I am pouring all my time and effort into the music and everything else that goes along with it. I believe there are enough people out there who would love my music enough for me to be able to make it pay and let me continue to make this music – the trick is finding them and starting that relationship.
If all goes to plan, I’ll be able to release my music a lot quicker – there’s no reason I should be spending a full year making each album if I’m putting full-time efforts into it! I’ve also very much enjoyed sharing the creative process with all my friends across the world and involving them in it. This is something I’ll be looking to continue. It used to be that the album was the be-all and end-all, but these days sharing every-day events and incidents along the way and being open with your musical life is actually just as important if not more so.
‘Feels like coming home’ is a big step up from the first album ‘Blood is thicker than gold’. My songwriting, production and overall sound are maturing and becoming more cohesive and recognisable. Look out for the next album – it’s going to be another big step forward

A huge shout out to Matt for being a world-class legend and you definitely have a huge fan in me, and I am really looking forward to watching your music evolve and very excited for the next album. Matt Steady is a must have in your playlist, so head over to his website (links below) give him some love and buy his albums and don’t forget to tell him Presh sent you.

myrandomjukebox

Review by MyRandomJukebox

I’d like to introduce you all to a musician who goes by the name Matt Steady. I have known this musician for a while now (via Twitter) but his music has only officially become part of my collection recently. Hailing from Leicester, England, Matt brings his own unique musical style which I find difficult to put into genre specific boxes. If I had to try and describe his sound I’d say it has a folk heart which has hints of blues, jazz, rock and a little Celtic influence too.

I want to talk about Matt’s musical beginnings and more, but I thought it would be better to let the man himself share his musical world with you all. I always love chatting with Matt about his music as you can tell how much joy he gets from not just his own music, but the music of others too. I decided to ask him some questions about his world of music and about his debut album ‘Blood is thicker than Gold’, this is what he had to say:

Who or what inspired you to become a musician and which musicians have influenced your sound?

I am so lucky to have very supportive parents who “encouraged” me to take up violin and piano when I was young, along with the necessary theory. I played classical music both solo and in orchestras and choirs right up till when I went to university. In fact I solely listened to classical music until I was twelve or so, when one day I heard the Beatles and everything changed… wow! This led to a long infatuation with Dire Straits, who I still love. And then one day I heard BB King on the radio (the first time I’d heard the blues) and everything changed again! A long love of the blues began from that chance radio encounter, with Clapton becoming the next Big Thing that I listened to. At this point I managed to save up for a second-hand electric guitar and I spent a good deal of my spare time trying to copy their licks, with mixed success! Other big influences on my guitar playing were Pink Floyd and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Being brought up in church was a massive boon from a musical point of view. Apart from getting me to sing every week, I also started playing in church bands when I only had very rudimentary skills. Quite how they put up with me I have no idea, but I’m thankful! There’s nothing quite like playing live, with songs you only vaguely know, often with missing music, or keys changing at the drop of a hat. This sink or swim approach built up my improvisation skills extremely quickly.

In terms of folk/acoustic/singer-songwriter music, which is a large part of my music now, the main influences were Martyn Joseph and later Damien Rice – both amazing song-writers and performers. These guys were the inspiration for me to start singing and playing in front of other people – which is a big scary step to take. But in terms of writing my own music, this came almost entirely from listening to Jeff Black. I tried writing songs on and off for years, but it took till I was 39 till it clicked and I finally wrote one that didn’t deserve to go straight in the bin!

Other notables that have influenced my sound would be Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, the Black Crowes, Chris Rea. The Celtic sounds you hear are down to Iona – don’t ask how many of their gigs I’ve been to! Too many amazing musicians to even mention, but I’ve already rambled on far too long!

You have a great song writing talent, do you have a set process when writing songs?

I have two main approaches. Often it is music first – perhaps just noodling about with a guitar, finding a cool chord sequence or riff and then thinking about what emotions or thoughts it evokes and trying to write a song that fits and evolves with it. Or perhaps I trawl through drum libraries, different instruments and tempos, messing about creating sounds – putting things together till something clicks, again the sounds and music inspiring the song.

The second approach is where I have something I want to get off my chest, or I’ve read a news article that blows me away – in which case I’ll start writing down anything to do with the facts and the emotions, collecting phrases as I go along. At some point I’ll then pick up my acoustic and see what fits the lyrics – so the content drives the style of the music this time.

Talking about writing songs, which is your favourite from your album and why?

That’s a tough one! I would have to say Funny Old World. When I wrote that song I was really pleased with it, and plucked up the courage to play it to a friend at work (Morocco Dave – writes very good electronic music). As I watched him listen to it, it suddenly occurred to me that not only was recording stuff a great deal of fun, but perhaps other people might like to listen to it! At that point I decided I’d make an album and see what happened. The other thing I love about FOW is that I can’t even work out what genre it is! I haven’t heard much like it – in anyone can enlighten me that would be great!

If the world was going to end and you had enough time to listen to one album, which would it be and why?

I’m sure I’d change the answer to this every once in a while – but this year it would have to be “Blackbirds” by Gretchen Peters. It contains such wonderful song-writing and beautiful musicianship. Our family had a really tough time last year losing someone very special to us. I played this album over and over and it helped a great deal. It talks a lot about loss and healing, death and life. The words and melodies seeped in and I’ll never forget them. It may be melancholic in places, but inspirational and up-lifting at the same time. “The cure for the pain, is the pain”.

What are you future plans and goals for your music?

If only I knew! At the moment I’m loving writing songs and recording them, and I’m about half-way writing material for a new album. I play a few acoustic gigs and house concerts every now and again, and I’d like to increase the frequency of them this year. I’m sometimes joined by my daughter Indigo, whose vocals really add something to the experience. At some point I would love to be able to put together a band to actually play the full material that I’ve written, but at the moment with work commitments, family and training, I just haven’t got the amount of time available that I’d want to pour into this for it to be as good as it should be.

At the end of the day I have the luxury of being able to enjoy my music and do what I want with it without worrying about having to put food on the table with it. I think the best music comes not from trying to please someone else or to satisfy a commercial need, but when it comes from enjoyment and inspiration. I’m lucky enough to have a good full-time job so I can do whatever I want to do with my music without worrying about it paying the bills. The down side to that of course is that I don’t have as much time to do it in! So I have to work smart as well as hard – I’m hoping to become much more efficient with my writing, recording and production without compromising on the quality. And I’ve got so much to learn in all those areas – that’s half the fun!

‘Blood is thicker is Gold’ is a musical gem which I didn’t appreciate until I really listened to it. I have listened to this album many times but it’s always been in the background while doing other things. When I actually sat down and listened to the album without any distractions I noticed that this album has so much to offer. In a world of music which is created to fit genre boxes or trends, here is an album that does neither as it goes against the flow to do it’s own thing. Matt creation is a result of his passion for music which is moulded in the way he wants and this is why I love independent music.

‘Blood is Thicker than Gold’ is 11 tracks which will take you on a journey thanks to the way he has arranged his music. Matt Steady definitely has a gift in the way he uses various instruments within his music that includes electric/acoustic guitars as well as piano, fiddle, banjo, flugelhorn and drunken trumpets. These are used to deliver various tones to each song that will take you an a different journey to the previous song. For example the instrumental track ‘Romulus and Remus’ will take you across the Celtic plains and then you have the song ‘The Roamer’ which has you hitting route 66 with it’s Americana vibe. He throws so many different sounds to you that on your first listen of the album you are excited as you don’t know what he will deliver next. The only problem with how good his music is that sometimes it distracts me away from the lyrical content. Maybe this is just me. Taking about the lyrics, it took me a few listens to appreciate that Matt has a great way with words to tell some great stories. The raspy vocals give the lyrics a warm charm that when it is wrapped up in the music gives you a captivating song.

With so many great songs on offer choosing my highlights was difficult but I would say one of them has to be ‘Passion for Pinecones’. This song features the vocal talents from Matt’s daughter Indigo who has a great control and range to her vocal tone. Matt is in support on guitar which has a gentle sound to let his daughter steal the show. As for my favourite, I think I’m going to go with the song ‘Funny Old World’. This is a mostly instrumental track that has the guitar and piano dancing together to deliver a wonderful sound. When Matt does sing it has a genuine emotional jazz tone to it and I like it. A song which is a little different to my usual sounds but this is a credit to Matt’s songwriting ability.

Overall, this is a wonderful album that is a hidden gem from Matt Steady. The diversity and depth that this album has to offer is impressive and anyone who is a genuine fan of music will have a lot of love for it. I recommend that you head over to his Bandcamp page and give his album a listen. If you are impressed with what you hear then you can either download or purchase the album on CD while you are there. Go on, open your ears to something new and give ‘Blood is Thicker than Gold’ a listen today.

I know from speaking to Matt Steady that he is currently in the process of working on a new album, and personally I am intrigued to hear what he has created and because he goes where the music takes him I can not predict how it will sound, but the makes me more excited for this release. To find out when this will happen or future gigs from Matt then head over to his website at MattSteady.com. You can also find him on his social media sites at Facebook and Twitter which he is very sociable, so go and say hello.

As always I want to end my review with a reminder to support independent and unsigned music as it needs our help. The guys and girls love creating music but to help it grow they need us to help purchase their music and spread the word though social media. So, if this now includes the music by Matt Steady then go and tell the world all about his music today!

meander blog
The Appetizer Radio Show

The word “virtuoso” might bring to mind a time-worn violin master who seems too frail to hold a bow, only to drop the façade of age the moment he starts to play, astounding the audience with talent that younger players could hardly hope to parallel. And perhaps in an earlier era, playing music like that really was the realm of the dedicated elite who devoted their entire lives to their craft. As I’m fond of pointing out, however, we live in an unprecedented age. Today, scores of promising musicians who would never have signed to record labels or been granted a spot on the radio are able to reach people directly through the Internet. As a result, whether we are simply hearing more and more musicians who were previously ignored, or whether more talented individuals are able to get in the game, the upshot for us is that we must rethink what a virtuoso really is – and England’s Matt Steady helps us do just that.

I’ve said before that genre is becoming an increasingly outdated way of describing music, with so many artists blurring the lines between the old categories. Yet terms like “rock” or “blues” still provide some useful points of reference when trying to see what an artist is doing, and in Matt Steady’s case, we can observe how he plays loose and free with them. I’d like to describe what he does in “Blood is thicker than gold” as a kind of “virtuoso fusion.” The fusion is a complex blend of Celtic music with that classic American trio of rock, blues, and folk music. What makes it virtuoso, however, is the way he seizes these categories and forges them together in a signature way.

It’s not just a matter of how masterfully he plays the guitar, remarkably so for a debut album, or how weathered his voice sounds (reminiscent of the legendary Leonard Cohen). The difference between an amateur musician and a master may be whether they simply repeat what’s come before or create something new, and Steady does the latter. On one track, he might blaze a folk-infused rock/blues trail that sounds like Pink Floyd spent a year wandering across America (see “The Roamer”, video above). Yet he just might surprise us with Celtic sounds transformed into the meeting place for totally unexpected instrumentals (see “Romulus and Remus”).

Ultimately, there’s a perfect storm in place for Matt Steady’s debut. His mastery of both guitar and his classical training in piano and violin; his synthesis of four distinct styles into one vibrantly personal trademark; his presence on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and his own site. Steady need not be an aged Italian concertist to be a virtuoso – his proficiency and savvy are already taking him there at a much younger stage.

meander blog
Meander Blog

A lovely review on Meander Blog can be read here

‘Blood Is Thicker Than Gold‘ is a great, folk inspired debut album – with a slightly heavy twist. One thing I noticed while previewing this album was that the lyrics run deeper than you’d think, telling delicate stories that lie behind the music and his raspy, rugged vocals. Although it’s easy to hear that the album lies in the rusty, folk-rock genre, Matt’s broad palette of musical genres – jazz, celtic and blues, are hugely apparent throughout the record. His classical training also plays a major role in this album, it’s cleverly constructed with layers of texture, especially in the instrumental-heavy tracks.

The album is a wholesome composition, recorded, produced and performed by Matt, and aided by Swedish, freelance drummer Niklas J. Blixt, and a select number of other hugely talented musicians. He has poured himself entirely into this record, and it’s personal – his Matt’s daughter even features on one of the tracks with delicate, silky vocals! I like that in a way it doesn’t sound too polished, that there’s this rustic edge to it – you can hear him laughing with someone at the end of a track, you can envisage him just chilling in the studio, with his guitar (or drums….or fiddle…or bass…or banjo…or keyboard…get where I’m going with this?!) just singing his heart out and just truly enjoying the process that comes with making an original album – taking himself seriously enough to get the job done, but not overplaying that seriousness – and the product of this attitude is a damn good record that you could easily, and happily listen to the whole way through. ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Gold‘ is an organic, earthy and honest listen; it’s been an absolute privilege to preview it. Give it a go – it’s a corker.

wayoutradio
Way Out Radio

I must say that I love this album as it transports me back to a time long forgotten. I’m listening to “Skogr” as I write this and I can literally smell the peat fire smouldering in the hearth. You have a rare talent, Sir! I connected with the album right from the opening chords of “The Roamer”, and the different styles contained within gives the whole album a flavour that I haven’t experienced since Jethro Tull’s “Songs from the wood” album of ’77 … “Blood is Thicker than Gold” has been a real breath of fresh air.

The Count, Way Out Radio

Garden party-8
Matt Steady: Steady and then some. (Thrussingberry 2015)

Imagine a friendly, bearded Viking (in a waistcoat) has just landed upon your shores and begins to make peace with your people by playing earnest, soulful versions of cover songs and quality original music.

With a voice that conjures up anyone from Seasick Steve to a smooth (viking) crooner, Steady brings an originality and delivery that is entirely his own. And you certainly won’t be disappointed you heard him.

He is Steady. He comes in peace. He does have a Stick-fighting anthem. But for this artist, it’s about the battle within – a battle he will win, just by being Steady. Matt Steady.

Giovanni Paolo Ciotti (Blue Skies in June)

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