Over the past five years, Matt Blais has been generating a catalogue of material that is both emotive and relatable. His passionate live performances demonstrate eagerness to create heartfelt songs and nowhere is more evident than on his newest album, The Heartbeat, where a poetic personality fuses with growing life experience.
Since the release of 2010’s Let It Out, produced by Canadian music mogul Mark Howard (The Tragically Hip, Avril Lavigne), Blais has been hard at work self-producing The Heartbeat. Working independently has allowed him to be more true to himself and his audience, he reveals. “I wanted it to be organic and to bring the live show to the record. I used my live guide and I produced it myself so that I could take as much time as I needed to make it perfect. I learned a lot and got my hands dirty on every part of this record, even the packaging, just so that it was an exact reflection of me in every possible way.”
He seems confident when I ask if he is at all intimidated by the public response to such a personal album, but his view is simple: “You have to be prepared for that. Even the greatest works of art will have critics and I can appreciate that. It doesn’t really intimidate me, because then you know what to work towards next time. If you go into a studio setting and you are thinking about how it is going to be received, then you aren’t going to make that record, or those songs that you want to make.” Blais associates his honesty with a zeal for rock/blues music. “Blues,” he feels, is a “music of struggle,” a genre whose grittiness is devoted to a core of candidness and storytelling. The Heartbeat is an example of Blais’ dedication to past musical traditions and fresh, innovative songwriting.
His energetic performances have sparked a lot of attention, and in 2008 he won Big Rock’s Untapped Music Award. This album will be unique in that it’s “live, off the floor, [without] a ton of production. It is just rock and roll to its core.” Stoking the best from his last album, The Heartbeat is part honesty, part emotion and one big blues rock party.
See him burn up the stage February 9th at Republik with partners in crime Trinity Bradshaw and Dangerfloyd.
By Therese Schultz
Photo: Jenn Five