Matt Lang shows Québec’s take on country music

SiriusXM’s Top of the Country winner talks songwriting 

Matt Lang will perform at Ale House on Jan. 30.
Credit: 
Supplied by Ruchama Shainhouse

Québécois country music singing Matt Lang gives Nashville a run for its money. 

After winning the SiriusXM’s Top of the Country competition in 2019, Lang is setting out with country singer Tebey on his The Good Ones tour.

On Jan. 30, he’ll come to Kingston for the first time to open for Tebey at the Ale House.

Lang comes from Maniwaki, Québec—which isn’t exactly a country music hub. He remembers finding country music early in life despite this, even performing Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” for his first show ever.

“I was really, really nervous,” he said. Although he says that feeling has gone away over time, it’s still difficult at times. “It’s always challenging because it’s a show and it’s something that’s always stressful.”

He’s come a long way since then, proving his ability and performing skills on the SiriusXM Top of the Country competition.

Jill Snell, Lang’s manager, sent him to audition for the competition. After making it into the top eight, the public was invited to vote online for the top three. Then he moved on to compete against the other two musicians in Calgary, where he won.

He won $25,000 and a songwriting trip to Nashville. On the trip, he wrote with Tebey and Kelly Archer, his friends and fellow performers.

“It’s really cool, it’s my first Canadian competition. It’s really big for me. That year it was a really big year […] It’s really intense,” Lang said in an interview with The Journal.

When it comes to lyric-writing, Lang says it can be a challenge. English is his second language, which poses a major barrier. Writing music, on the other hand, comes easily to him.

He started writing music when he was just 16 years old. Now, at 29, he’s established his sound and he knows what works for him.

“When I have something in my head, I just put all that on the paper […] [My inspiration comes] from my life and from other people’s too.”

Lang’s most recently-released song, “Water Down the Whiskey,” is based on his life philosophy.

He sings, “You don’t gotta water down the whiskey, c’mon, girl, just give it to me straight,” going on to advise, “Don’t twist the truth, just twist the top.”

In a classic country music take on life, he boils this request down into fun-loving, upbeat, twangy terms. Another song of Lang’s, “My Final Pour,” takes on a more serious issue: the story of an alcoholic man contemplating giving up drinking to fight for his love. He sings, “’Cause her love’s worth fighting for.”

The man in the song alternates between sharing his memories of treating the woman poorly, and his resolve to stop drinking.

These two songs take very different views of drinking, but that’s because they tell the stories of two very different people. Lang’s music is inspired by stories he hears, his own life, and storytelling. Mostly, they have to do with love. Ultimately, Lang’s love for writing music comes from a deep appreciation for country music as a genre.

“I like the guitar sounds in the old country stuff,” Lang said. “When you’re on a road trip, you can just put country music on, and you feel so good when you hear that kind of music.”

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