By Gregory Adams
After travelling the world over with his classic country and western tunes, Matt Masters (aka the Albertan Reporter) is back with a new album. Since 2007's Centennial Swell, a record we said drew from "the honky-tonk and outlaw books of sound," the satin-shirted, Smithbilt-sporting singer has nabbed some gigs singing at Calgary Flames home games and taken his Prairie-indebted tunes as far as Mexico and the Arabian Desert. Back at home, for the time being, the man is ready to release his next set of homegrown honky-tonkers, All-Western Winners.
A press release describes the collection as "the blueprint for what is coming in Canadian country music," adding that it's "grabbed the sounds of the prairie by their roots and used the future as a fertilizer to grow a crop of Canadian songs that will serve to feed a generation."
While eight of the cuts on the collection take traditional cowboy songs into the 21st century, Masters tips his ten-gallon hat to the past via covers of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Snake Farm" and Marty Robbins's "Don't Worry 'bout Me."
FFWD Weekly, July 2011
The last few years have been a wild ride for gentleman cowboy Matt Masters. Travelling from Manitoba to Mexico City and beyond, the Albertan songwriter has tirelessly laboured to spread his rootsy brand of country western around the globe. Taking a moment to marvel at the Ottoman Empire’s convex domes and creating his own plaid-shirt oasis amidst the shifting sands of Qatar, Masters has surveyed exotic realms, forging great friendships and new fans in the process.
“I did the recordings for the new album All-Western Winners (Saved by Vinyl) with John Ellis last October,” he says. “John’s worked as a producer in the country music industry for years and but he also appreciates that rock dynamic. Johnny saw me rock out in Carstairs and said ‘I like this.’ So we flew off to Kamloops and recorded for five days. The songs are a very diverse mix — ‘Oh, Saskatchewan’ is a tune I wrote 10 years ago and it came out on my first ever release.... People close to me have commented that it doesn’t sound like Matt Masters at all; they say it sounds more like Danzig, or something.”
Huh? “It’s true that the more rocking songs like ‘Snake Farm’ do have to be played with your feet wide like Ramones-style,” he explains. “Yes, it’s just one of those tracks people fall in love with. And ‘Snake Farm’ just sounds nasty.”
Avenue Magazine, July 2011
By Tony Charron
This is Master's first full length album since 2006's Centennial Swell, and it really shows off Masters' ability to not only write a tightly crafted song but also his ability to move easily from style to style, all within the country genre.
Whether it is the laid-back boozy waltz of Two Girls, the down-home roots march of Oh Saskatchewan or the romantic ode to love that is Candle Flame — with great backing vocals by Angela Harris — Master's booming vocals take centre stage amidst the pedal steel, acoustic guitar and mandolin landscape. Hats off to producer John Ellis and Masters for giving each song a unique sound while residing firmly within the genre.
Masters even shows off a bit of his rock and roll side with the racous nod to the road life, Highways and his rendition of Ray Wylie Hubbard's Snakefarm.