MP3 Matt Epp & the Amorian Assembly - At Dawn
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10 MP3 Songs in this album (40:00) !
Related styles: Rock: Rock & Roll, Folk: Folk Pop, Mood: Upbeat
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From Amoria with Love- Matt Epp Releases Fifth Album
An exceptional songwriter and a transnational band in service of an Empire of Love; the story behind the new Matt Epp recording sounds like great cinema.
A young Matt Epp grew up moving frequently within Manitoba, where he was entranced with skateboarding, snowboarding, and making videos about the same. Then something happened. In his early twenties Matt had a supernatural religious experience that led him to music. He was left feeling in the innermost recesses of his soul the need to sing. That, apparently, is why he is hereâ¦ on the planet. There was a small problem; Matt did not know how to play an instrument, sing, or write songs. Propelled by his newfound inspiration and conviction that this is what he must do, Matt set to learning.
According to Matt, he was âterribleâ when he started, but according to lots of other folks he had a lot of promise. His deep work ethic and perhaps his penchant for learning the hard way- in front of an audience- helped him improve quickly. Four independent recordings and countless shows later, Matt Epp is one of the names that is mentioned when the topic of hot young Canadian singer-songwriters comes up.
The Canadian thing is a bit of a misnomer in some sense; many of Mattâs accompanists are Spanish. Five years ago Matt âmetâ Raul Bernal through Myspace. Bernal, singer /songwriter / bandleader of Jean Paul, is based in Granada. Granada, the old capital of Andalucia, and one of the cultural centres of Spain, the home of Lorca and one of the places where flamenco emerged from Gypsy culture is a centre of the new adventurous Spanish music. A year ago Matt visited Granada for the first time and found, thanks to Raul and his friends, that he had a band waiting for him- a batch of co-conspirators who breathe lusty life into the vessels that are the songs he creates.
Matt is currently living in Amoria- itâs not a city, not a country; itâs an Empire. It has a flag that combines a heart and a Red Winged Blackbird. When you hear the new songs youâll get it. But donât look for Amoria on any map except the one Matt draws on this new album. The more folks who identify with Amorian values, the more likely that at some point the quantitative growth will lead to qualitative change and then like the man said, âa change is gonna comeâ, and Amoria might even develop a geography. Right now it is an idea, a state of being, a reaction to the realities of the present world. Hence the name of the band featured on the new CD/LP- Matt Epp and the Amorian Assembly.
The name Amoria comes from the Latin root for love and love is what Amoria offers, although as Matt is quick to point out- âIt doesnât mean I want to go around hugging everyoneâ. It also doesnât mean that Amorian references dominate the new songs. In fact it is only obviously present in three of them- Red Winged Blackbird, New Sunglasses and Set Sail. The first two establish that Amoria isnât bound on land by borders, and that despite his travels, where Matt is, Amoria is.
In Set Sail there is more detail. It draws from real things that happened and changed the world. November 25 is a real date of importance as is the assertion by a passionate revolutionary that âat the risk of seeming ridiculous the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of loveâ. âAmoria, Our Amoriaâ¦ The Empire of Loveâ¦ Where the soldiers are servants and Love sits on the throneâ. Here the vision of revolution and liberation, as in Sam Cookeâs âA Change Is Gonna Comeâ joins forces with the Gospel to produce an anthematic closer for the recording that is a send off for Matt, the band, and the listener towards a new world- âImagine a world worth dying for/Be the horizon, there it is on a distant shoreâ. It is powerful stuff made all the more potent by the superb playing of the band. This is no leaky boat!
Eppâs songs are not without complexity, contradiction and concern. Part of his Amorian philosophy is that âlove doesnât avoid conflictâ. Conflicts manifest themselves in various ways throughout At Dawn. They move from a plea for communication with a lover in the opening number, Donât Let the Sun Go Down, to that ominous confession that âI met someoneâ in the song of the same name. There is as fine a declaration of love as has been heard in these parts for sometime- Never Have I Loved Like This- and a song about the value of songwriting- Supply and Demand- that compares songwriting to a miner, a farmer, an archaeologist- all tradespersons, productive workers, who like the writer- work with their hands. Come To My House carries on in the tradition of They Wonât Find The Bodies from his last release- a declaration that although âyou know me now as a peaceful manâ, that will change dramatically if âyou put the ones I love in dangerâ. There is a theme here. Like the Red Winged Blackbird- âHeâs a lot braver/Than he might seemâ. From the ambiguities of love- âWhat do you do with love once youâve got it?â to a declaration of his metaphysical motivation- âYou died for me, now I die for Youâ, this is sophisticated songwriting that goes far beyond the usual.
Matt claims Dylan and Jonathan Richman as two predominant influences. While he is in their tradition of superb storytelling, he sounds and writes like neither. He sounds likeâ¦ Matt Epp.
The band and guests assembled to make At Dawn is an eclectic crew of sonic sailors. The musicians Matt met and played with in late 2009 are at the core. Raul Bernal, Mattâs initial connection to Granada, is the piano, Hammond, Wurlitzer player on the album. Antonio Lomas was the percussionist for the famed Spanish pop/rock group, Lori Meyers. Matt expounds- âI knew him as the drummer that I was dialed into during our rehearsals... the musician that always caught my cues. We had a soul connection, though we could hardly talk to each other.â Joel Couture is on bass. Joel is a French Canadian from Winnipeg who Matt heard with another band. His name was so suggestive- Couture, as in haute fashion creation- and his presence on stage so dynamic that Matt just knew right then and there that he had to work with him. Other Winnipeg musicians filled out the band and the album, most notably guitarist Brent Warren, who worked beside Epp on his 2008 release Safe Or Free.
Matt describes the process and the risks- âI racked my credit cards to fly Antonio to Canada (twice!) to go on a short tour and then to go into the studio with me and Joel. It was a huge chance, planning to go on a tour just to warm up a non-existent band to make a band album... without them having even met, or without them even speaking any of the same languages! It paid off more than I could've ever hoped for. The chemistry was instantaneous and far stronger than anyone could've anticipated! Joel and Antonio hit it off the minute they started the first song of the first rehearsal... and that moment I knew that my vision for this band and this album... and Amoria, was going to be fulfilled.â
Fans contributed over $3000 in sponsorships to give Matt and the band time to record and mix the CD. Musical pals came in for guest spots- Torontoâs Bahamas on the opening track (Donât Let The Sun Go Down) and Halifax chanteuse Rose Cousins on Never Have I Loved Like This. Lead singers Noni and Alejandro of Antonio Lomasâ Spanish band, Lori Meyers, helped out with Beach Boys-esque backing vocals on New Sunglasses, and The Weber Brothers, the current manifestation of the legendary Ronnie Hawkinsâ Hawks joined in on Come To My House. Yesâ¦itâs a diverse crew but the voyage to Amoria requires many different talents.
Now itâs done. The album is setting sail on its voyage. Tours to Europe and across Canada are in the offing. And Matt Epp is alive and well and living in Amoria."
-Gary Cristall, January 2011
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