Bottom of the World
A singularly talented and all-around stand-up guy, Matthew de Zoete is helping pop-rock recover it's lost sense of dignity and self-worth. The 26-year-old from Hamilton, Ontario, approaches his craft much like an Old World artisan, applying a loving hand to songs whose melodic invention and attention to detail consistently catch the listener off guard. Matthew blows the dust off sincerity, songwriting\'s forgotten virtue, steering unlikely lyrics about parents into an encounter with his own certain death. And his voice: a sweet tenor as piercingly pleasant as Mississippi John Hurt or the young Alex Chilton. Matthew started writing and performing music in his teens, under the spell of timeless \'60s combos like The Beatles and The Who. A demo of original material came several years later, some of which was reworked for his 2006 debut, Across the Sea. That record made people take notice, announcing the arrival of a singer-songwriter who set unusually high standards for himself. 2008\'s Bottom of the World meets and exceeds those standards. Produced by Dave King and recorded mostly live off the floor, Matthew and crew capture in the studio all the spontaneity and joy of their best live shows; their familiarity with and affection for the material is very much apparent. It doesn\'t hurt that they\'re Matthew\'s strongest set of tunes to date. Variety is the watchword here: songs alternately chime all Byrds-like ("Remembrance Day"); curtsy to the guitar machinations of Nick Drake ("Bottom of the World"); move with brisk buoyancy ("Pictures on the Wall"); wax tastefully melodramatic (\'Warkworth Penitentiary"); drag their feet in waltz formation (the gorgeous album closer "Almost Remember, Almost Forget"). At the same time, Matthew has no interest in parading his influences before the listener; instead, he subtly invokes selected ghosts of rock's rich past while inhabiting an style all his own. He\'s a hard act to follow, but Matthew has shared the stage with a raft of musicians such as Luke Doucet, Great Lake Swimmers, and Serena Ryder. He\'s toured extensively throughout Canada, America, and Europe, and many festivals have benefited from his dynamic performances and quick-witted banterludes, including North by Northeast, Indie Week Toronto, GO! Music Festival, In the Dead of Winter, and Festival of Friends.