The newest offering from Ottawa’s Kalle Mattson has all the subtlety of a freight train.
The six-song effort, is entitled Avalanche. It is the first release from the singer-songwriter since 2013’s Someday, The Moon Will Be Gold, and chronicles, both directly and indirectly, the life of a travelling musician.
Mattson treats his subject matter carefully, however. He foregoes the usual “life on the road” clichés in favour of tasteful, eloquent tales, many of which focus upon what is arguably one of the toughest sacrifices that goes along with being a musician: the relationships with those you love as well as those you work with.
Mattson’s career to date has been a steady rise. With each new release, his songs find their way to new ears while with every tour, the crowds get a little bigger at each of the shows.
“I am definitely sensing there is a little more momentum with respect to my career,” Mattson says in advance of his show at Moncton’s Tide & Boar this evening. “I’ve never had anything blow up by any stretch but every record has been a nice, consistent incline. With each release of mine, there has been something cool that has happened that I had hoped would happen. It seems like every new release finds its way into the world in a manner I hadn’t previously seen or expected.
“The key is, you just don’t ever give up. You just have to keep working hard and eventually, those rewards find their way to you.”
By today’s standards, Mattson was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to music. He was 14 years old when he started playing guitar; at 19 years old, he wrote his first song. Mattson’s first release, 2009’s independently done Whisper Bee was comprised of the first 11 songs he ever wrote.
Avalanche is Mattson’s fifth release overall, but certainly is not the first to earn the indie-rock songwriter some well-deserved attention: His 2011 video for “Thick As Thieves” was highlighted by the likes of Time Magazine, while 2014’s Someday The Moon Will Be Gold was nominated for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.
Of course, boiling down Mattson’s numerous achievements just two quick footnotes does not necessarily do him justice, especially when his chief concern is only to make each new record better than the last.
Mattson whole-heartedly embraces his past work, but also acknowledges that he feels his progression from record to record is coming along rather nicely as well.
“I’ve put out a record almost every year since I began releasing records. I would release two or three records a year if I could. I feel a big reason why I have been so prolific is that I feel like I’ve been given this great opportunity to record and make records, and I want to feel as though I’m getting a little better at my craft with every new album.
“I am fortunate enough to be able to treat making music like a job.”
Mattson knows that a big part of his job entails spending long periods of time touring the world. Being a good Canadian citizen, he has toured coast-to-coast too many times to mention, but has also devoted a significant amount of time touring Europe.
He has nothing but love for his home country, but acknowledges that touring Europe tends to be a little easier on the psyche.
“Canada is wonderful and very worth my while. It just happens to also be a hard place to tour as an independent musician. There is not necessarily a lot of cities to play to start, but when you’re making music that isn’t widely disseminated on the radio, it becomes even harder.
“Germany is maybe half the size of Ontario but has three times the population. You can leave a city with a population of over a million, drive two hours and then be in another city that has a million people. In my experience, the arts, including live music, have much more in the way of respect there. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Sunday or Monday night, people in Europe tend to check out live music every night of the week,” he says.
Helping stoke interest in Mattson’s upcoming Atlantic Canadian tour is the recently released video for Avalanche’s title track. The video boasts a unique concept:
Rather than Mattson merely mimicking playing the song, he spends his time recreating the album covers of records that influenced him as he was growing up. Included in the colourful video is Mattson’s take on Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A., Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 and Paul Simon’s self-titled 1972 debut.
“The idea for the video came to me a long time ago, when I was looking at Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Records of All Time. When I was growing up, I was lucky that my father had this huge record collection, where I could find a lot of those albums included in the list. I still think there is something very special about digging through a record collection to find these musical gems.”
What: Kalle Mattson with The River & The Road
When: Saturday Aug. 29, 9:00 p.m.
Where: The Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main St., Moncton