Giving a first taster of a full album due next year, award-winning country singer-songwriters Matt Joe Gow and Kerryn Fields‘s debut single Your Heart Of Gold proves that exquisite talent can add up to reach even greater heights in collaboration. Hearty, honest and sun-drenched, the lush acoustic song was inspired by South Island sea views, as the two explain.
Matt:Your Heart Of Gold started as an idea, we were on the phone talking about our forthcoming record and I was inspired by our conversation, I remember walking through the living room, picking up my guitar and coming up with the chords for the song, then sent the idea to Kerryn who by that time was landing in Aotearoa as the message came through.
Kerryn: From there I started formulating ideas for the verses, the storyline and how to interpret the melody of the song to fit us as a duo.
Matt: I remember hearing Kerryn’s verse in real-time when we reunited in the South Island, the line ‘glistens across the horizon’ was written while we were looking out over Friendly Bay in Ōamaru.
Kerryn: Matt is producing our record which means we were able to quickly define the direction of the song and forthcoming record as a whole aesthetic. We demoed the song between shows in Ōamaru and Ōtepoti, formulating ideas in the lounge room with a borrowed audio box and a gaffer-taped mic stand.
Matt: We discussed the sonic texture of the album a lot, we wanted to find a place that offered something different to our solo projects but was also true to us as individuals. We felt an all-acoustic album was the answer, inspired by Appalachian folk & country instrumentation. Being an all-acoustic sound and that in itself helps branch away from both of our projects, but still ties into our back catalogue.
Kerryn: Matt is a brilliant producer so crafts ideas meticulously as the song is being written, so the demo itself is pretty close to the finished song – which is how we managed to get such a great soundtracked live off the floor. We wanted to achieve a ragged edge to the song, the sound of real instruments and the energy in the room which is a style we both love and draw from across all our songs.
Matt: In regards to the lineup, Andy Pollock assisted with the production, and features on mandolin. We also worked on the fiddle part with Tanya Bradley and Pete Denahey. Daniel Brates is on the drums, Craig Kelly on Double bass and Alan Norman rounds out the lineup on accordion.
Kerryn: Our good buddy Alan Norman from The Warratahs added the accordion in the bridge as a last-minute idea which really makes this section shine. Matt’s signature tambourine makes an appearance; he takes the tambo very seriously. Haha. The fiddle part really stands out, it’s a great hook that started as a riff on Matt’s guitar and we really felt the fiddle would bring out the Appalachian influences.
Matt: Because we were writing parts for each other we had to interpret each other’s melodies and learn how to embody them authentically, that took a bit of practice as we both write for ourselves, but it was inspiring and something we both really enjoyed being challenged by. I really like the line in the bridge ‘bare feet on warm pavement, all the hope in my heart’
Kerryn: There are lots of great lines, the imagery of listening to the radio and hearing your favourite song play, this song feels like home. We’re storytellers at heart so everything we create has a foundation of truth and authentic connection to the human experience.
Matt: With the right crew around you anything is achievable, we wrote this song in February this year on tour in Aotearoa, recorded the song with a studio being built around us and released the song while back on tour in May for NZ Music Month.
Kerryn: After we finished creating the initial demo in Ōamaru I walked down to Friendly Bay and found a rock with a heart of gold etched in it on the shore. Pretty magic.