Outside the Lights of Town
Matt Patershuk & The Dirty Plaid Orchestra
On the opening track, King of This Town, there’s something instantly small-town about Matt Patershuk’s latest release. Outside the Lights of Town is a tribute to Patershuk’s rural roots in northern Alberta: everyday characters drift through his narratives that pay homage to the empty landscape, cold winters, and racing winds. While it’s tempting to locate the small-town feeling in his subjects, or even in the unhurried pace of tunes that are driven by pedal steel licks and smooth accordion, it’s really Patershuk’s voice that is immediately familiar. At once warm and friendly, his singing is much like the real-life Patershuk, an affable songwriter always willing to share a story. His country-folk influences of Willie P. Bennett and Fred Eaglesmith are obvious in songs like the title track, a gentle, rollicking ode to the prairies, and then take an upbeat turn in Silver Bangles, a tune perfect for a spin around the tavern floor.
To me, though, the songs that really stand out are certainly good musically, given the talent of Patershuk’s surrounding players and the vision of producer Steve Dawson, but are also brilliant little snapshots of ordinary life. The provocatively titled Let’s Get it On captures the nervousness of the first romantic encounter between two regular folks and Patershuk draws out little, unremarkable moments with poetic language in Gold.
Not one to falsely romanticize rural life and work, Patershuk nevertheless grabs listeners with compelling tales and vivid imagery, making you want to see the world through his eyes.