Exploring the Facets of Love: Interview, Deanne Matley, “Because I Loved”

Deanne Matley - Because I Loved

The fifth album from Canadian jazz vocalist Deanne Matley, “Because I Loved,” is a tour de force, taking the listener on an emotional journey from despair to quiet contentment, with stops at red-hot passion and the excitement of new love along the way. Deanne recruited some of Montréal’s premier jazz talent for the project, including drummer Jim Doxas (who also produced the album), pianist Paul Shrofel, bassist Adrian Vedady, and guest vocalist Ranee Lee.

Deanne Matley’s voice and passion for jazz have taken her from her Alberta home to New York, France, Mongolia, and back. She sings standards, her own songs, and an impressive variety of covers with combos large and small, including Calgary’s Prime Time Big Band. Her previous four albums, with songs ranging from jazz standards to pop covers and Christmas favourites, have garnered her Top 10 radio play across Canada and fans around the world.

One surprise that listeners will encounter on the album is Deanne’s cover of Journey’s “Open Arms.”  As that’s one of the few songs I actually remember from the 1980s (that being my classical period), it was immediately recognizable to me but I absolutely love what Deanne does with it here.  In addition to covering standards from more conventional jazz sources such as Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Horn, Deanne also closes the album with a lovely cover of Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors’ “The Wine We Drink.”  This album also finds her exploring her own songwriting voice with several original songs, including the exquisitely Latin-tinged “Not My Only One.”

This is a hugely enjoyable album that finds Deanne Matley in excellent voice, surrounded by great players, and singing some terrific songs.  Highly recommended.

We’re thrilled that Deanne took the time to speak with us about the project.

This is your fifth album… did you have a specific goal or sound in mind when you started planning this project?

Absolutely! This album is all about relationships, each song has a connection to a relationship, a color and an emotion. I started planning this towards the end of 2016. I created a vision for the album as well. Because I Loved is the gift of promise and courage to the world, inspiring connection, healing, love and true intimacy for all. This was the first time having an actual producer, who had a big say as well in all the song choices and his goal, after the recording, was to take all these different types of songs with different feels and textures and create an overall sound for the whole album. He did an amazing job of this. I had someone from the media tell me that he couldn’t tell the difference between the originals and the standards. Another person mentioned that after he heard the whole album, he had a true sense of healing…this person didn’t know about my vision..isn’t that cool?

I’m always curious about how singers choose songs, particularly standards. Are the songs on this album ones that you’ve known for a while, or are some of them new to you? What drew you to these songs specifically?

For this album the songs were well thought out. A few of them I never heard before but was presented to me by my manager who has a good knack for A&R and also knowing me on a more personal level he knew I would connect with them. Many tunes I would send to my producer and many times he would say, “this is good, but I think there are better ones.” Sugar is originally an instrumental and when I discovered lyrics for it, I was like yes please! The Wine We Drink, I had to record, as it is exactly what I search for in my next long term relationship..true intimacy and practicing love every day. Necessary Evil was the most last minute tune decision, but sometimes that’s the best to. Not all things can be planned and I just went with my intuition.

I think some people might be surprised, for example, at the choice of Journey’s “Open Arms” (especially those of us of a certain age, who heard it so many times on the radio when it came out!)… but it really lends itself well to the reframing you give it as a jazz ballad. How challenging is it to take really familiar songs and make them new and fresh?

Honestly, this is one of my favourite things to do. I love taking already amazing tunes and making them my own. I always knew Open Arms could be done in a more intimate kind of way and had bought the sheet music for it years ago. The melody and words are truly beautiful and really speak to vulnerability and deep heart connection. I am not in love with Journey’s version as I’m not, in general, a fan of the “80’s” lol but to be able to do a new rendition and to really be able to tap into that inner creative part of me is pure bliss. I have done it with Oasis’s “Wonderwall” (two different times), Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home” a ton of Stevie Wonder Tunes and more. I play these on my live gigs and have recorded Wonderwall twice..I’m a big Oasis fan ha! I will be heading back into the studio shortly to record some of them so I can start sharing them with the world.

You worked with some excellent musicians on this project – can you tell us a bit about some of them, and how the experience of recording this album was?

I absolutely adore my Montréal team. I also love my Calgary team as well, but it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone and try on something else for a change, which all my cats here in Calgary totally supported. I believe that growth and comfort don’t belong in the same sentence, I grew as a musician, heck this whole journey since it started in 2016 has been one big growth experience as a woman! It was an amazing experience in the studio. I felt so loved, supported and taken care of. By the time I went into the studio I had already developed a good relationship with the core team so that made it feel even more connected. I felt safe with them and knew they had my back. I had the post recording blues for sure. I am very grateful.

“Not My Only One,” one of your own compositions on the album, has a great Latin sound to it – is this how you heard it in your head as you were writing it, or did the song evolve once you got into the studio?

Thanks! Yes it always had a latin flare when it started out. One of my piano players here in Calgary helped me flesh it out and then we started performing it as a duo on live gigs. The response from the audience was always huge. I think it made them feel happy..it has that happy kind of feel lol. It actually didn’t evolve too much arrangement wise but of course more instruments were added like percussion and organ, which gives it a kind of Santana vibe. It was Georgie’s (my engineer) favourite song..I remember in the studio he kept saying “Deanne you wrote this kiddo? It’s great!” lol and then he would dance a little bit..he is kind of adorable…

What does the summer hold for you performance-wise, and where might people hear you live in the next few months?

I am so grateful to be able to do music full time. This summer I will be doing some travelling to Toronto and will be heading to France to perform at a festival there and start planning my tour probably for the fall. I also will be doing more recordings and launching some singles of originals and covers which I am very excited about! So stay tuned for those 🙂

~ L

Visit Deanne Matley’s website.

See a list of Deanne’s upcoming performances.

Listen to “Because I Loved” on Spotify.

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