Matt York
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Matt York

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE | AFM
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Matt York grew up in Oakville, Ontario, near Toronto, but from the sound of his second album, Mine, he should have been raised across the border in Detroit. York is a blue-eyed soul singer who shows off the influences of Stevie Wonder and (on "Someday") Bob Marley. He creates sinuous grooves based on acoustic guitar riffs or the kind of electric piano sounds that used to fill records in the 1970s, then sings over them in a tenor voice full of sand and butterscotch. That's after he leads things off with "Death Came a Knockin'," an a cappella gospel number. York sounds like the sort of artist who developed his tastes listening to old records and never heard anything made after about 1975. Music fans who feel the same way, and who have spent decades wondering why nobody makes albums like that any more, will be happy to hear him. - William Ruhlmann, Allmusic.com


I have to admit that before this album, I hadn't heard of Matt York. Then I heard the first track of Mine and had to hear more. "Death Came a Knockin'" is most definitely a gospel tune, but it captured my soul immediately. There was a purity to it that drew me back to the rest of Mine. Was I disappointed? I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.

If the rest of the album included more gospel-style tunes like "Death Came a Knockin'" I probably wouldn't be disappointed at all, but the rest of the album hits me like Lenny Kravitz going Motown, which didn't always work for me.

That said, I think York has crafted a good album. It's pretty low-key musically, with a pretty consistent pulse. The album landscape has a few hills and valleys, but the only stand-out song for me was the first one. After that, I do have a couple of favorites. "Lucky Man" speaks to me of a man in a committed relationship, who feels lucky to be with the one he's with. And "It's All Fire" just has a lovely melody with some beautiful harmonies along with the guitar.

York toured for three years and nearly 750 shows for his first record Under the Streetlights, working his way across North America, Japan, and Australia. He even released a DVD in March 2008 of some of his concert footage (filmed by Dan Ramirez, who also worked with the Dave Matthews Band and O.A.R.). At the end of the tour, York was feeling the effects of the road, but decided to work on his sophomore record rather than taking a break.

He teamed up with Brad Stella and Joel Parisien to create the tracks for what eventually became Mine over the next few months. York grew up listening to Motown and gospel and wanted to go back to that feel for this album. He and his new five-piece band will most likely be on tour again later in the year to showcase Mine.

Overall Mine was a good album, just not what I expected after hearing the first track. If you are a fan of the Motown sound, I'd definitely recommend Mine as something to check out! - Blogcritics.com


‘Mine,’ Matt York (Rock Ridge Music, 3 and a half stars)

This Jan. 20 release is Canadian singer/songwriter Matt York’s follow-up to his debut album, “Under the Streetlights,” which sold several thousand copies worldwide and led him on the long winding road, playing 750 shows.

The album starts out with old-time acappella gospel (“Death Came a Knockin’) and goes down different roads from there, with all remaining songs written or co-written by Matt. Mike Todd (guitars), Jaret Koop (bass/vocals), Ben Rollo (drums), and Scott Galloway (keyboards) are the core of his soulful backing band, supplemented by Charlie Finlay (sax) and other horns.

There’s plenty sonic evidence that York paid attention to Motown and gospel while his friends were listening to Nirvana. Matt’s father taught high school music, and Matt learned guitar while he worked after school. Highlights include “Give Me Love,” the funky “It’s All Fire,” and the Percy Sledge-flavored “Now and Then.”

Get in on the ground floor with a cool new artist. - Biloxi Sun Herald


Of all the nice guy singer/songwriters—and that means everyone from David Wilcox to Jason Mraz—Canada’s Matt York is one of the most interesting. Aside from being a skillful singer with one of the most instantly likable voices around, York is a young man whose sentimentality runs so deep, he’s sentimental about things that haven’t even happened yet. The follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut Under The Streetlights, York’s Mine is a durable eleven-song collection of thoughtful folk rock that finds the singer/songwriter unabashedly leaning into nostalgia and coming up with a drop down menu of memories that are so crystal clear they could very well be your own. The acapella gospel-flavored opener “Death Came A Knockin’” is truly stirring; “Let Me Go” brings to mind Amos Lee and “Lucky Man” rolls along with an easy rock and sway. York’s fascination with who we were, who we are, and who we’re going to be comes with equal parts marvel and worry. For example, on “Give Me Love” he sings: “Little boys grow up big and tall/Laying pathways when they’re small/Well, I’m not sure about the plan/But I’ll try and be the best I can.” On the album’s finest track, “Those Days” York tells of a “boy and a girl/Walking the world,” which is simple enough, but things get complicated when the former notices the girl is “humming a song about a boy in love with the moon.” In other words, boys in songs get to stay young forever, though the boy’s appearance in this one doesn’t seem to ease his anxiety as he hopes not to end up being the kind of man who “ignored his heart.” The singer’s uneasiness with adult life, uncertainty of what a man might be called to do, and the fear that he’ll somehow let down his younger self, make Mine one of the most thoughtful and emotionally direct albums in recent memory.
—Alex Green - Caught in the Carousel


From the very first song, the a cappella "Death came a knockin'," it's obvious that Mine is going to be anything but typical. With jazz, blues, and funk influence, the 11 tracks are a perfect feel-good answer to a gloomy winter day or a warm summer night. "Tomorrow" and the title track are catchy tunes that will have you fighting the urge to get up and dance, while "Those Days" begs you to sing along. York's soulful vocals shine through on "Now and Then" and "It's All Fire". Wherever York has been hiding, it's a good thing that he's finally come around, and brought his talented band along with him. - Frances Conroy - Connections Magazine


A week ago, I had never heard of Matt York. Too bad for me. I am all about music that I can listen do while doing absolutely anything. I want to be able to listen to it while I’m happy, bawling my eyes out, driving to an interview, writing a 24-page paper or while readying myself for a girls’ night out. ”Mine” has proven to be one of those CDs.

I have been listening to the CD on repeat for 3 hours now, and I’m fine with that. Nothing has bothered me, and I haven’t skipped a single song. Cool, huh? While it is clear that Matt York does not yet have the stature of Gavin DeGraw, I am not quite sure why. The slight rasp to his voice allows him to sing with natural soul, but it doesn’t hinder him from relaxing and letting his voice go. The perfect example of this can be heard in Those Days, the sixth track on “Mine,” and also my favorite song on the CD. Another great song on the disc is Tomorrow. The use of horns and York’s lyrics give it a jazzy vibe, all while keeping the pop-rock thing alive, almost like a very toned down Blood, Sweat & Tears number.

His music is honest. Matt York doesn’t waste precious disc space with random thoughts about clubs, alcohol, or half-naked women. Because I don’t think that I can do it justice, I will copy a tidbit from his thank you letter to those that bought his CD and have supported him throughout his musical career. It describes what the album means to him, and what he hopes it means to his listeners.

–> “Music has a funny way of grabbing people and helping them relate to their own lives. This album is a testament to the fact that no matter what happens, no matter how far away the things that you used to hold dear have floated, you always have the ability to take them back and make them your own once again. Everything is within reach.”

Honest much? I would say so…and he didn’t even mention anything about liquid courage. York’s music does indeed have a way of relating to peoples’ lives. My advice to you? Head to his MySpace page by clicking here and fall in love with his music. Next, go to iTunes and buy the album.

P.S: While the song Hey Love is not on his newest CD, I definitely recommend that you check it out. It sounds like a fusion of John Mayer and Gavin DeGraw. Enough said. - Thoughts Out Loud


Discography

Zero Six EP - November 2003
Under the Streetlights - April 2005 (Canada)
Under the Streetlights - October 2006 (Japan, Entak/Universal)
Mine - November 2008 (Rock Ridge Music USA, SoulSparrow Records Canada)

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Bio

After touring for the past three years supporting his first record “Under the Streetights,” playing nearly 750 shows across North America, Japan and Australia, and releasing his first DVD in March of 2008 (filmed by Dan Ramirez [Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R.]), Matt York is on pace for one heck of a year. After navigating his way through the music world on his own steam and getting a taste of both its luster and seedy underbelly, Matt was beginning to feel the effects of the road.

Rather than take a break, Matt responded by pairing up with some friends and exceptional songwriters: Brad Stella and Joel Parisien (NewWorldSon) to craft a selection of tracks for his latest project. Those connections, and Matt’s habit of locking himself in a Toronto rehearsal space for weeks on end, resulted in twenty new songs and a rekindled fire in the belly. In February of 2008, Matt went back in the studio with producer and longtime friend Justin Koop (Tomi Swick, St. Alvia Cartel, NewWorldSon) to begin working on his sophomore release – “Mine.” Six months of work and eleven final tracks later, “Mine” is ready to fill the ears of the masses. Matt York's music will make you think, feel, dance, sing out loud until it hurts, and then do it all over again. The new album, along with his new five-piece band, has even further confirmed that Matt York isn’t just another singer-songwriter.

“I grew up listening to the Motown and gospel that my mom and dad would listen to around the house,” says Matt. “In high school, when all of my friends were listening to Nirvana, I was listening to Stevie and Rare Earth. My dad’s a high school music teacher and accomplished violinist, and when he’d work long hours after school (I went to the same high school he taught at… it was awesome….), I’d sit in the music room and play guitar for hours each night. My dad would be there to help me if I didn’t know certain chords, but I never took one lesson. I just learned the songs I loved after school every day.”

Some highlights include:

- "Mine" is currently featured on AOL Music's Listening Party alongside the likes of Mariah Carey, Miles Davis and Bon Iver.

- Matt’s first album, “Under the Streetlights,” sold nearly 8,000 copies worldwide.

- In 2006, Matt got picked up by Japanese label Entak/Universal. His single “Hey Love” charted in the Top 20 on Tokyo radio charts for nearly seven weeks.

- In 2006 and 2007, Matt hit the top three in the Canadian Radio Start Competition run by Mix 99.9 (now Virgin Radio) for his songs “That’s Life” and “Lucky Man.”

- In 2007, Matt was nominated for three TIMA (Toronto Independant Music Awards) including “Best Male Acoustic” and “Best Song.”

Matt has shared stages with Andy Stochansky, Tomi Swick, Justin Nozuka, Allanah Myles, Matthew Barber, G. Love and Special Sauce, State Radio, The Alternate Routes, and Ryan Montbleau to name a few.

- Matt has already showcased at the 2008 CMJ Music Marathon in NYC at Sullivan Hall.

- Matt’s new album “Mine” has been picked up by US-based Indie label Rock Ridge Music and is slated for digital release November 4, 2008. All US Stores will carry it on January 20, 2009. Distribution to Europe will follow.

- “Tomorrow,” the first single off of “Mine,” has already been picked up by thirteen major radio stations across Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia including CBC Radio 2.

- Matt’s songs have been placed in numerous films and television programs, most notably on PBS’s “Road Trip Nation” and just recently on “The New Indie” where three of Matt’s songs were picked for placement.

- Matt’s first EP sold nearly 5000 copies just from side-stage sales. Matt hand-made each one and sold them while on tour across North America.

- Matt recently received an endorsement from Cole Clark Guitars.


“Mine” will be released in Canada on November 7th with a tour of North America to follow. For more information on Matt and the band, visit www.matt-york.com or www.myspace.com/mattyork.