If it were up to me, this Bio would be one paragraph long:
Matty Powell’s music speaks for and about Matty Powell. Listen, and you will learn all about him.
There. That is all you need to know. You can put this down and get back to whatever it was you were doing, letting Matty’s music play in the background until it screws itself into your head like the earworm it is.
Passionate and melodic, and brimming with questions and answers, insight and awe, personal yet universal, Matty’s music will reach you and touch you…all you have to do is listen to it and let it weave its magic.
But the Artist wants what the Artist wants, and this Artist, Mr. Matty Powell, (a personable young man who tends bar when he’s not writing and performing), just wants you to get to know him better.
Consider this a first date, if you will.
He says he was born on a hide-a-bed in a small bungalow called Funky Kingston in Saskatoon, SK, started a career in theatre, acting in numerous plays and movies in Winnipeg, MB, got his first (blue) acoustic guitar at a pawn shop, sang lead in a punk band during high school, moved to Toronto at the tender age of 19 to pursue a career in film and television, got tired of auditioning for Herbal Essences and Dentyne commercials very quickly, and started writing songs and playing around Toronto in venues like the Free Times, Clinton's, The Cameron House, and other well-known local venues where many young singer/songwriters had plied the stage before him.
Not one to be satisfied with just playing live, young Mr. Powell recorded an E.P. What We Could Be in Toronto in 2002 but wasn't really happy with it, citing “too many cooks in the kitchen” and ending up disappointed with an effort that didn't even sound like him.
Not everything was a disappointment in Toronto. Matty now had a beautiful daughter, Freja, and the two of them moved back to Saskatoon in 2007 and Matty joined the board of The Ness Creek Music Festival, a festival in Northern Saskatchewan where he had spent his summers growing up along with all the other sons and daughters of hippies who had migrated there. Of this period in his life, Matty says; “Playing around bonfires and smoking pot for the first time, I started playing in Saskatoon and recorded my second E.P. The Ness Creek Sessions way up in a secluded cabin in Northern Saskatchewan over a cold weekend in May. No power, no running water, but lots of beer and a bunch of great players.”
Now we’re talking.
Matty’s second record achieved local success and was released to a sold out audience at The Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon. Now fired up and rarin’ to go, he created a project called The Great Train Reverie, which took a band from Saskatoon to Halifax by train, playing music in the trains and cities the whole way across Canada.
Having accomplished all he could on the Prairies, Matty, in a fit of creative and adventurous abandon, loaded his now 2 daughters, Freja and Eir, into a 1980 VW bus and drove from Saskatoon to Nicaragua to help build a sustainable house called an Earthship.
“ I ended up being a founding member of The Earthship Pitaya Music Festival in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, a music festival to support the local community, spent a year living in Nicaragua.”
After absorbing the sights and sounds of his Central American sojourn, Matty moved back to Toronto and started playing around the city again, his music (and his life) enriched by all that he had seen and heard, and experienced south of two borders.
One night, playing in the back of The Local, a wonderful, down to Earth bar/restaurant venue owned by brother and sister Ru and Melissa Sexton and located in Toronto’s burgeoning Roncesvalles Village, Matty was heard by veteran bass player/producer Alec Fraser. Fraser was immediately taken by Matty’s songs, and the man himself. Alec, a multiple award winner both as a musician and a producer, and instrumental in both capacities in the success of the legendary guitarist, Jeff Healey, suggested they enter the studio and record a full length album. In January of 2012 they did exactly that.
The full length CD, Kiss the City, is now available. In Matty’s own words, “I am now ready to take on the world with my songs.”
He is, indeed.
Matty Powell - Vocals, Guitar
Alec Fraser - Drums, Electric Bass, Upright Bass / Backing Vocals
Ron Tomasson - Electric Guitar
Mike Daley - Electric Guitar
Michael Fonfara - keyboards
Al Cross - Drums
Kiss the City - November 10th, 2012
The Ness Creek Sessions - September 2007
Music Review of The Day
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Singer-songwriter Powell has been playing originals for over a decade, with a couple of E.P.'s behin...Singer-songwriter Powell has been playing originals for over a decade, with a couple of E.P.'s behind him, but this is his first long-player. With a base in Toronto but roots in the Prairies, he has an organic feel, a lot more big skies in his music than tall skyscrapers. It's folk-rock with an upbeat feel, a fellow traveler with the likes of Jeremy Fisher and David Myles, acoustic guitar to the front, a good groove in behind, with some pickin', drums snapping along, bass slapped and a smile on all faces.
It's some sort of Canadian genre I think. Similar gentlemen from the U.K., say David Gray or James Blunt, also have sincere and rich voices, but are way, way too serious and self-referential. Sappy, even. Powell, even at his most mellow, as in the song This Cigarette, a heartbreak number, just tells it like it is with a good image, thinking of her while having a smoke, lingering thoughts making taking a drag, a drag. And he's not about to ring tears out of you; he lets that drop quickly, moving into the album's biggest rocker, Insecurities, with its electric riffs and advise to "turn the lights down low 'til we lose our..." (see title). Anyway, we do this whole guy-with-guitar and cool voice so much better, because, I guess, guys like Powell are a lot more real. Plus, this is the basic bonfire style of strumming and singing that's been passed on from lumber camps to summer camps to Gord Lightfoot to Blue Rodeo.
Mostly I like how laid-back and warm Powell makes his songs sound. Even when you find out that the song Freja is named after his daughter, and is about protecting and loving her, there's no lingering sentimentality, just a good feeling you take into the next song. And anyone who can write a song called Toronto and make it sound dramatic and compelling, well, the guy's got some talent.
Review- “Kiss the City”- Matty Powell
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Matty Powell is a restless man. He has hopped back and forth across the country (and out of the coun...Matty Powell is a restless man. He has hopped back and forth across the country (and out of the country) acting in plays. building homes for the less fortunate and, of course, making music. When he finally decides to make music, it definitely seems to be a momentous occasion. Kiss the City is Powell’s latest effort, and his country/roots/rock combination sounds pretty great thanks to producer Alec Fraser.
Kiss the City is also an album that will get you your money’s worth, consisting of 13 tracks, with most of those songs at four minutes or longer. There’s a lot to take in, and it will definitely take multiple listens to appreciate the musical layering happening here.
“The Creek” was a good choice on Powell’s part to open the album, as it’s one of the strongest songs overall. There’s a great blending of multiple guitars, piano and distant-sounding percussion as Powell sings about an ideal time with a lover. “Dance me down to the creek/We’ll build a bed out of leaves,” Powell sings in his deep, slightly scratchy voice. Powell even sings in what sounds like Spanish partway through the song and the music picks up even more when the percussion comes in a little louder.
There’s also the very sweet “Freja,” named after his daughter. It’s appropriately an uptempo number with shakers, bass guitar and piano that ends with Powell singing “Shine that beautiful face.”
Powell also shows that he can do a lot with the basics, such as in the powerfully lonely “This Cigarette.” With just his voice and an acoustic guitar, Powell sings lines like “I found lonely in the bathroom of a Greyhound” and shows off his vocal strength and range. Album closer “Kiss the City” also ends the album in more or less the same fashion, with a few heartfelt phrases such as “Aflutter goes my heart and under my breath I say/’Could you stay?’”
“Still Love You” is a song that doesn’t, at first, sound like it could be one of the best songs on the album until it begins to add in other instruments like bongos and some well-plucked upright bass strings from Alec Fraser.
Then there’s also some unexpectedly guitar-heavy numbers that save the album from being another deposit in the bin of folk/roots records. “Smoke Rings” in particular shows off a bit of Powell’s guitar virtuosity, and “Insecurities” seems to come out of nowhere and reinvigorate what could have been a uniformly melancholy album.
There’s a lot to take in when listening to Kiss the City, but some patience will definitely find that there’s more to discover each time. The album is available from iTunes.
Truehearted Vocals and Fresh Uncomplicated Melodies
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Truehearted vocals mesh with fresh, uncomplicated melodies in the work of this Western Canadian sing...Truehearted vocals mesh with fresh, uncomplicated melodies in the work of this Western Canadian singer/songwriter. Matty Powell’s forthright delivery and his skill at couplet crafting at times evokes the spirit of an early Elvis Costello as he contends with issues of love and justice. His emotional dial turns easily from delicate to fierce, sometimes in the same set of lyrics. Ebullient lead guitar work from Mike Daley and Ron Tomasson are highlights of the superb backup. Standouts include “Smoke Rings”, “Yellowquill”, “Still Love You” and “This Cigarette”.
Kiss the City - Matty Powell
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If you include the 2007 e.p. The Ness Creek Sessions, this is Powell’s 2nd release. Beautifully craf...If you include the 2007 e.p. The Ness Creek Sessions, this is Powell’s 2nd release. Beautifully crafted and laid back, this collection of folks/pop songs is a gathering of well told tales.
Though he calls Saskatoon his hometown Matty Powell is a world traveler. In 2009 he spearheaded the creation of The Earthship Pitaya Festival in Nicaragua, a festival supporting local musicians and sustainable development. Noble to be sure, but not worth a fart in a wind tunnel if you don’t like the music.
The trip mentioned above inspired the title song, and Powell himself refers to the album as a “musical scrapbook”, a trip through lost love in the big city of Toronto the Spanish verses of The Creek he wrote in Guatemala. Kiss The City is a great sounding album, never too cluttered, likely thanks to producer Alec Fraser (Jeff Healey, Bo Diddley).
You may find, as I did, that how receptive you are to this depends on where you listen. First time I spun this was at my desk at work, and my workmates agreed; “this is sad bastard music.” But days later, on a Sunday afternoon at home, I found myself easily falling into his web of storytelling. This is the kind of thing you throw on when there aren’t a lot of distractions between you and the music. I can’t wait for spring and a rainy day to see how that makes this album feel.
TOP TRACKS: Kiss The City, Any Other Way, Insecurities
Kiss the City w- Revie
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I just received the newest release, Kiss The City, from Matty Powell. This is far from a blues recor...I just received the newest release, Kiss The City, from Matty Powell. This is far from a blues recording but as you know I have an open mind. Powell has put together a release of 13 original pop/rock tracks that is very soothing. Primarily (but not always) an acoustic recording with keys and solid vocals and sometimes a country twist. Powell creates a dramatic atmosphere reminiscent of some of the great balladeers. The tracks are well written and cleanly performed. The band includes Powell on vocals and acoustic guitar, Alec Fraser on bass, Mike Daley on electric guitar, Ron Tomassen on electric guitar, Michael Fontara on keys, Al Cross on drums and Brian Stiller on background vocals. One track, Insecurities breaks totally out of the mold with a pop rock track. Smoke Rings, my favorite track on the release is a sultry track with cool guitar effects and a light reggae beat. I really like this track. Again, not a blues recording but a high quality recording and one that should reach strong following and airplay. I would definitely recommend this recording for those who like quiet ballads. Powell has a bright career ahead of him.
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