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Matt Mays launches new acoustic album

Matt Mays, who is releasing a new album this month, is playing a concert at the Marquee Ballroom on Tuesday, October 16.
Matt Mays, who is releasing a new album this month, is playing a concert at the Marquee Ballroom on Tuesday, October 16. - Lindsay Duncan

Countdown to legalization concert set for Oct. 16.

If you liked the last Matt Mays album, you’re probably going to enjoy the next one.

A year after the release of Once Upon a Hell of a Time, Mays has come up with an acoustic mirror image. Twice Upon a Hell of a Time will be available in full Oct. 19.

The companion piece was originally conceived as a straight-up solo interpretation, similar to an iTunes Session he had done in 2011, but Mays ended up adding extra vocals and instrumentation.

“I kind of knew that we could do it, but I wasn’t really planning on it, going in to record that record,” said Mays during a phone interview from Prince Edward Island, where he was performing with Adam Baldwin.

“But I was doing some solo shows and doing solo versions of them anyway, and I kind of wrote a lot of them in a Twice Upon a Hell of a Time sort of way. A lot of them, that was their original form, so it wasn’t hard going back to them.

“I was kind of planning on doing it a little more torn down but I hear all these parts in my head.”

Mays cited Neil Young’s acoustic-electric bookends on the Rust Never Sleeps album as an inspiration.

“That’s how I learned that a song is just a song, and you can do it a million different ways after you write it. You can do a jazz standard of it or you can do a reggae version or whatever you want, really. The hard part is writing them.

“I don’t know if anybody’s ever released (albums) a year apart, cover to cover, the same sequence and everything. I don’t know why. It kind of makes sense to me. It’s easier to get into the words and where the songs are coming from a little more.”

Take 78s, 33s and 45s, for instance. The ode to the life-saving powers of records goes from rock urgency in the first version released to strummy Nick Lowe-like power pop in the second.

Mays has said that the louder album is for Saturday nights, while the acoustic set is for Sunday mornings.

“It’s a little more hangover friendly.”

Extending that logic, the crowd at an imminent Mays show should expect to party like it’s the weekend. Mays and guest band Partner kick off the Halifax Pop Explosion Music Festival and Conference with what’s billed as a Countdown to Legalization party at the Marquee Ballroom on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the show is open to Pop Explosion wristband holders 19 and over. If space permits, there may be a few tickets available at the door.

“It’ll be full-on Marquee. You know what I mean,” Mays said.

Long associated with Dartmouth, he’s splitting his time between Toronto and Halifax these days. Mays said he was going to be on the East Coast, doing the shows on the Island and the Fredericton Strong benefit, when he was approached for the Halifax show, which is sponsored by a New Brunswick licensed cannabis producer that’s used music events for branding.

“It worked out, so the company came to my management and offered up the gig. Since I was actually going to come home and hang out for a bit anyway, it kind of worked out well.”

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