Matthew Byrne was born into a family of Newfoundland music makers and his repertoire is heavily influenced by his unique musical lineage. This tradition thrives on the song – the weaving of a great story with a beautiful melody – and Matthew’s music reminds us how satisfying traditional songs can be when stripped down to these basic elements. His live performance offers tasteful and honest interpretations of folk songs delivered with polished guitar work and powerful vocals. His repertoire transcends time and place with traditional songs from both sides of the Atlantic.

Photo by Graham Kennedy

Since bursting on to the trad scene in 2010 with his debut recording, Ballads, Matthew has swiftly earned his place as one of Canada’s most authentic and vital traditional voices. In that time, Matthew’s music has traveled well beyond the rugged shores of his homeland. His role as singer and song-finder in The Dardanelles has brought him to many major international festival stages including Winnipeg Folk Festival, Celtic Connections in Glasgow, UK, and The Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland, Australia.

Matthew is currently promoting his second solo offering, Hearts & Heroes, which brilliantly showcases his musical growth as a traditional singer and guitarist, and asserts a new level of musicianship and a skill with interpreting and arranging traditional music. Byrne has once again teamed up with producer and musical partner Billy Sutton to create fresh and original arrangements of lesser-known traditional songs, which Byrne has either inherited from singers within his family or sought out himself. The influence of four years in a powerful and rhythmic trad ensemble is evident in songs like “Bold Nelson” and “McAlpine’s Crew”, which showcase a thicker band sound and sit beautifully alongside the stark, stripped-down arrangements on the record, which include two original instrumentals.

Hearts & Heroes won “Traditional Album of the Year” at the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards.

 
Possibly the finest interpreter of traditional songs in the country, Hearts & Heroes certainly provides ample evidence.
— Roddy Campbell, Penguin Eggs Magazine
It’s increasingly rare to find male traditional singers who are not just good, but GREAT! Matthew is certainly in that truly great category.
— Brian O'Donovan, WBGH Boston
Matt’s interpretation of traditional songs is somehow fresh and ancient at the same time. And his voice is friggin’ perfect.
— Alan Doyle
Matthew Byrne sings with a voice as true as a compass needle and is a dab hand on his instruments as well. His “Ballads” is one of the finest english language traditional albums to come out in many a year.
— James Keelaghan
A rich collection of story songs, beautifully performed, arranged and produced. A ‘must have’ album, a great young singer and a breath of hope for traditional song in Canada.
— Ian Robb
Ballads is the solo debut of one of Newfoundland’s most authentic, vital and exceptional musical voices. Matthew Byrne is a talented storyteller. His attention to musical detail, his beautifully sweet voice and exceptional playing have made this album a hugely popular release here at Fred’s.
— Fred's Records