Matt Joe Gow Goes Track-By-Track Through ‘The Woodshed Sessions’

20 February 2024 | 2:06 pm | Ellie Robinson

"This is the sound of me and my band trying things on the fly and capturing the moment.”

Matt Joe Gow

Matt Joe Gow (Supplied)

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Last week saw Kiwi country star Matt Joe Gow release The Woodshed Sessions, an acoustic album he and his band tracked live in the studio, reworking songs from his previous albums to envision them in a new light.

As he candidly tells Countrytown, “there wasn’t a tonne of thought put in to how to restructure the songs for this album” – but therein lies its beauty. He explains, “This is the sound of me and my band trying things on the fly and capturing the moment, as that is what I love about playing live.”

To celebrate the release of The Woodshed Sessions, Gow sat down with us to unpack each song on the record, exploring the new forms they took in the studio. Read on below, and head here to grab your own copy of the album.

1. Just This One

“[This track is] completely different from its original form on my Between Tonight & Tomorrow album. It was initially an angry acoustic rocker, but for this album it is transformed in to a mournful southern gospel piano ballad. It’s more melodic here, [which] I feel [is] one of the bigger transformations from the original song.”

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2. Shipwreck

“Overhauled i to a duet, the now-stripped-back acoustic rendition of the opening track on Between Tonight & Tomorrow sees me singing with my longtime bandmate Katya Harrop. I think she shines as her vocal soars over the second verse and choruses on this one.”

3. Grand Ambition

“Originally featured on my 2016 album Seven Years, it went from a driving, sparkly, uptempo, almost Jackson Browne-esque ‘70s Americana song to a soul-infused groover set over a lush piano. With layered three-part harmonies, I feel this song captures the spirit of the album.”

4. Between Tonight & Tomorrow

“[This song was] written for my mother, who always encouraged my songwriting from an early age, and passed away before the album of same name could be released. Close to my heart, this one.”

5. Sweet Collapse

“[This is] one of my most popular songs, I’ve found. This reworking focuses on the harmonies and melodic tagline. We wanted to shift the focus on this one to the lyrics, which speak of the weight of a life on the road as a traveling artist. It ain’t all sold-out shows and big royalty cheques, that’s for sure.”

6. I Let You Be

“Taken from my debut album The Messenger, produced by Nash Chambers. This gothic number has become a mainstay in my live shows, and here it is stripped back to its bare essence.”

7. N.Y.J.J

“This Exile On Main Street-style acoustic belter sings of warmer times – better times – in the hope solace can be found by a couple who have lost their way. I wrote it for a friend.”

8. Flowers In Your Hair

“This duet was originally recorded at Bill Chambers’ studios, but fittingly, seven years after featuring on my album Seven Years, I wanted it to feature on this new acoustic album. I always felt it held a Cash/Carter feel [and] sound, but the lyrics were more inspired by the longing of Dylan's romantic outings.”

9. ’Til My Whole Heart Bursts

“I wanted to really change this one structurally, from an upbeat foot tapper to a two-part song, with an outro focusing on lyrics of life, loss and rebirth that are a central theme of my last album and most of my work.”