International touring artist and award-winning singer-songwriter Matt Epp has released his 13th album, “Rolling Wave,” and his new single, “Live Free,” out now.
The Toronto-based troubadour has found himself on the forefront of the Canadian music scene for more than a decade. Epp’s confessional songwriting and intimate performance style have gained him a worldwide following and a 2017 Grand Prize win at the International Songwriting Competition. His songs, which draw on folk, blues, and Americana, have garnered regular rotation on CBC, Sirius XM and community radio.
“Rolling Wave” marks a transition into what the artist calls a new era. Recorded mostly alone in a converted rural “Art Church” on the shore of Lake Huron, “Rolling Wave” recounts Epp’s spiritual journey amid pandemic-era isolation. Epp channels themes of presence, connection and nature, embracing both joy and sorrow as equally important elements of the human experience.
“A rolling wave represents to me the cyclical balance of life; the sacred deepening of grief and experience of ecstasy; natural law and consequences; a powerful enveloping embrace and pull into itself,” Epp says. “One can ride the wave if they surrender to it, and be crushed by trying to control it.”
Epp says creating the album was a “playful, free and spiritual process” that helped him lean into life’s ebbs and flows in the face of devastating personal upheaval. The end of his marriage, the death of a friend and the loss of all of his belongings to a break-in theft “opened the gates of my heart to experience some kind of rebirth,” Epp says.
“I began to learn self-acceptance, self-love, and to know that I too held my own medicine; that I have the honour and responsibility to scatter it around the world,” Epp says. “My takeaway lessons included relinquishing my sense of control, giving thanks for difficult tests, and holding everything I have with open hands.”
Epp says he learned to record himself in the Art Church, affording himself more time to experiment with lush backing vocals and guitar layers than he would have allowed for in a studio. “The result is a sound more reflective of the purity and magic of the exploratory demo process; usually elusive to the artist trying to create perfection in the studio,” Epp says.
The uplifting single “Live Free” is a testament to following life’s calls to adventure, while shaking off the fear of getting hurt in the process. “Picking up speed, rolling down the hill/ Scraping your knee is just a part of the thrill,” Epp sings. “Do you bleed/ Are you taking chances/ Do you have loving arms around you/ Live free, whatever that means.”
He also explores the bliss of living life to the fullest on the jubilant “Made for Love” and its accompanying music video, featuring a playful Epp romping around in ankle-deep snow in his underwear. Epp recalls the lyrics to the song, which opens the album, just “falling onto the page.”
On the psychedelic-inspired “Inside Out Man,” a maple-sweet tune that nods to the late songwriting great John Prine, Epp touches on his struggles with intimacy despite his vulnerability on stage. “The Girl Who Walks the World,” a sweeping ballad recounting a journey through a natural landscape, was “inspired by the spiritual state of humanity and where our world seems to be inevitably headed.” And the Americana jam “Present Moment,” which closes the album, “was channeled during spiritual reflection on death, presence, and interconnectedness.”
“As it was born, I had goosebumps on my arms and I felt a sacred presence in the room with me. In my experience, it was a sure sign that a higher power was gifting me a song that had special work to do,” Epp says. “I truly believe that Rolling Wave marks the transition into a new era for me and my work.”
Epp will support the “Rolling Wave” release with an international tour in Canada and Germany, launching April 14 in Peterborough, ON.
Matt Epp Canadian Tour
APR 28 FRI BERWICK UNION STREET
MAY 12 FRI OWEN SOUND HEARTWOOD (w full band)
MAY 13 SAT TORONTO DAKOTA (w full band)
MAY 22 MON REGINA HOUSE CONCERT
MAY 24 WED LEDUC MACLAB CENTRE (supporting AV & Inner City)
MAY 25 THU CALGARY IRONWOOD STAGE
MAY 26 FRI LETHBRIDGE OWL ACOUSTIC LOUNGE
MAY 27 SAT RED DEER RDP Arts Centre (w RDSO)
JUNE 1 THU WINNIPEG TIMES CHANGE(D)