Is it too early to be talking about album of the year?
It probably is, especially as the album in question was actually released at the tail end of 2019, ok I admit it, I’m still getting through the last few albums of last year, but that doesn’t change the fact that ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ is a fine album.
Apparently Matt Patershuk is “one of Canada’s best-kept musical secrets”, this is down to his choice of hometown, shunning the usual musical homes of Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, Patershuk instead prefers the rural backdrop of Alberta and this shift in mood and feel shines on the album.
This is an artist who prefers to watch from afar, crafting stories into songs that act as little four-minute episodes of a great soap opera that David Lynch would give his back teeth for. With titles like ‘Ernest Tubb Had Fuzzy Slippers’ and ‘Velvet Bulldozer’ you know you’re in the presence of a creative mind, the album is mostly country or Americana but brings in Tex-Mex vibes and blues here and there, at times the music is richly layered and has an underlying complexity that isn’t noticed until the third or fourth listen.
Here and there are snippets of songs, each titled as ‘Horse’, there are four in all, most lasting under a minute but they act as a reminder that the album has a theme, a common thread rather than a bunch of songs put together.
It’s an album to listen to with a beer in your hand while you take in the sounds and let the music build an image of a dusty highway, a struggling blues musician working his day job to fund his nighttime excursions, the lone drinker seated at a high bar, Stetson on his head, maybe watching the ball game on a muted television and the nights in a motel room, dancing with a loved one as the cars creak past.
Very, very good.