Kitchener, ON’s alt country-rock artist Matthew Burkhart is basking in the warmth of Slow Burn, his artist’s debut album, available now.
“I’m the only one in my family with a musical bone,” Burkhart offers. “I had to be making noise at all times. Music has always helped me channel my streams of consciousness and tell stories.”
Having taken his turn playing in bands and performing live, the choice to embark on a solo offering was both a creative necessity and fitting step for the multi-talented singer/songwriter. It came together quickly, too — the seeds and sparks of each song aligning just right.
“I wrote Slow Burn during my two-week quarantine in mid-March,” Burkhart recalls of the album’s initial process. “I had taken a trip with my family down to Scottsdale, Arizona over March Break which was right as the pandemic really started raging; it was strange seeing that happen in real-time in a foreign country.
“The day after we arrived back in Toronto, the borders closed,” he continues. “I received word about having to quarantine and, all of a sudden, had two weeks of solitude to write about everything.”
The result is a seamless synergy of music and words sheathed within a six-track EP.
Lyrically, Slow Burn journeys a variety of aspects — from finding new love in “Good Place to Start,” to pushing through life with your inner voice in “Back Down the Road,” to “Wind Song,” rife with social commentary touching on economic oppression and the current societal and political status quo.
From there, Burkhart’s rock-driven track “A Place in My Mind” touches on acknowledging and removing a toxic state of mind, while the subtle and more melancholy “No Better Time Than Now” perfectly punctuates his expansive sonic range. “Volcano” is a metaphoric exploration into the powerful feeling of allowing yourself to love again.
“These songs are about finding the truth about how I feel right now,” Burkhart says. “It’s never been easier to get dragged down by simply observing the world around us; the longer this goes on, the heavier the weight is on everyone.
“I had a lot on my mind after witnessing the pandemic’s breakout the way that I had,” he continues. “I had also found a new love in my life, and it was a connection that was tough to be away from for that many weeks.
“All of these things came out and it was nice to allow myself the creative freedom to put pen to paper. That time gave me a chance to filter my thoughts and ideas into melodies and words, and was incredibly liberating.”
If the album was inspired by events that transpired around COVID-19, it’s fitting it was recorded within the parameters of it as well. “Last December I had approached Brandon Fehderau about recording my first single, ’Unaware,’” Burkhart explains of connecting with the Kitchener-based producer in 2019. “I loved his spontaneous approach to recording without sacrificing the integrity of the song, so I reached out again about recording Slow Burn.
“We had pre-production meetings over Zoom and it was definitely different, but ended up being more efficient than spending an afternoon or day in the studio. The whole EP was recorded in three days, with Brandon taking up the rhythm section duties, leaving me with the guitar and vocals.
“It was incredible how smooth the whole process was, and I credit that to both Brandon and I being super prepared and working with intention.
“This album is a labour of love, and something I knew I needed to get out to people.”