He may not have known it before, but Toronto-born, New York-based guitarist Matthew Stevens, prized for his forceful, distinctive electric sound was an ideal candidate to make an album fully devoted to solo acoustic guitar: the intimate, unadorned, straightforwardly titled Pittsburgh.
September 2020, Stevens was hunkering down in his wife's family's hometown of Pittsburgh, while navigating his way through the crisis. He had with him a vintage Martin 00-17, a small-body mahogany guitar. Practicing daily on the Martin, he began generating a series of short song "starts" - ideas and sketches he thought might lead somewhere. Then one rainy Pittsburgh day, Stevens' bike slid out from under him and he broke his right elbow. Rather than getting derailed musically, he became immersed in a creative process that led straight to Pittsburgh: a document of those short song "starts" from the notebook, now hatched as completed compositions. "Playing this music became a big part of my rehab," Stevens recalls.
As the album took shape, it became clear to Stevens that he was headed in the direction of a wholly unaccompanied recital, with no overdubs or sound layering of any kind. Just him and this special Martin, two Neumann U89 mics and enough peace of mind across two separate sessions to make Pittsburgh the triumph that it is.