Matt Lowen’s new album mixes zen, bluegrass and americana

The CD release party for Last Year's Leaves by Matt Lowen is at Tractorgrease Café in Chilliwack on Saturday, Nov. 8.

The CD release party for Matt Lowen's Last Year's Leaves is at Tractorgrease Café on Chilliwack Lake Road on Saturday

The CD release party for Matt Lowen's Last Year's Leaves is at Tractorgrease Café on Chilliwack Lake Road on Saturday

Singer-songwriter Matt Lowen’s explores some poignant territory on his brand-new CD, Last Year’s Leaves.

The CD release party is at Tractorgrease Café on Chilliwack Lake Road on Saturday, Nov. 8.

Lowen says the music is a “blend of zen, bluegrass and americana,” and it took almost two years to write.

The album was recorded at Spiderlodge Studios in Chilliwack last summer.

“It’s the music of change, of transition, of life as we live it,” Lowen wrote, adding that growth and change were major themes.

The CD is overflowing with “an abundance of image & song as it explores the cyclical nature of growth & decay, love & loss, and life & death.”

Lowen penned 50 tunes, mostly in his home studio, and then winnowed them down to seven for the album.

“I tried to make it as precise and spare as possible.”

The CSS grad said he used “Occam’s Razor” to take out everything unnecessary in the writing stage.

The recording turned out to be an organic and enjoyable labour of love when they laid down tracks at Spiderlodge Studios, in the shadow of Little Mountain in Chilliwack.

“From the hummingbirds buzzing over our heads in the afternoons, to the dogs curled up beneath our feet in the evenings, to the moon shining through the window as it rose over Mt. Cheam, the record began to reflect the natural setting it was born out of,” Lowen said.

A road trip out of Idaho brought friends and musicians, Renee and Jason Homey, to to lay down the fiddle track on ‘Never Goodbye.’

It was Genge on guitar, dobro, and bass, and Lowen on piano, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, and guitar.

“We have kind of a system and can play almost every instrument,” Lowen offered.

There’s an old-world sensibility to the acoustic recording, but presented with a fresh, contemporary edge. Lowen says it’s “kind of like Bluegrass in a graveyard on a thursday afternoon.”

For the CD party on Nov. 8, the Spiderlodge trio will open the show with Rick Genge, Lori Paul and Clay Thornton.

Lowen’s dad, Brian Lowen, will be on bass.

“I usually play alone, so it’s nice to have a band for that night.”

It was an adventure shooting the music video, with Leigh Culpin, who also did his cover art. They filmed some of it in the lower bowl part of Mt. Cheam, but then hiked up to the top, with backpacks and headlamps, to get the iconic sunset shots.

Lowen ended up essentially running down the mountain, racing the sun, which was setting quickly.

“It was quite a day.”

The shots were incredible.

“But I was freezing to death. We filmed the last shots as the sun went down, which is cool, but now it’s dark and we’re on a mountain. So I pretty much had to run back down.”

The police were waiting at the bottom, since he hadn’t managed to return home by sunset as promised. They were safe.

“I guess necessity was the mother of fitness in this case.

“I didn’t want to spend the night on the mountain. So that ended a day of suffering and enlightenment.”