Scott Matthews has garnered serious critical acclaim in his 10 year career to date and has taken this time to nurture his craft. He was always deliberate in his actions as witnessed in the time he originally spent as a guitarist before becoming the singer songwriter behind the groundbreaking debut album ‘Passing Stranger’. Scott keeps moving on and exploring to bring forth gems of songs that seem to gestate over time and then “arrive” as if he was a conduit to some magical power. His vocal style has been much referenced in ethereal terms of “ghostly”, “haunting”, “eerie” and “hypnotic”, so perhaps there is magic afoot. Among the reoccurring constants in his world are “home” and what it means to everyone.
The imposing six-foot four, Black Country, somewhat reclusive icon has become increasingly aware of why his roots remain firmly planted in the Midlands. As all great artists he seems to live somewhere between the real world and the blessed outer circle of day to day. During late 2012 Scott had a vision, which was to build a home studio. This, however, was only part of the plan. Upon completion of the studio, the final part of the vision was to set about recording a full-length album, without the help of an engineer or producer, which is something that Scott had never attempted before. The results of which can be heard on his forthcoming fourth album ‘Home part 1’. The goal was to write a set of songs that he would be able to reflect on in years to come, by making a more personal album than previous releases. Drawing upon his exceptional song writing talents, for which Scott won the 2007 Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically, he has revealed more directly his personal experiences than previously. Instrumentally on ‘Home part 1’, there is a familiarity to the soundscape with acoustic and electric guitars, cello, piano, flute, flugelhorn and drums dominating the field
Whilst his own experiences are often the inspiration for his writing, he is also influenced by articles in local newspapers and the work of writers such as Alan Sillitoe and Robert Frost. He was profoundly moved by the iconic photography of Robert Wiles, which inspired the only piano-based song on the album, ‘86 Floors from Heaven’, while Magritte’s ‘The Son of Man’ influenced ‘The City and the Lie’. JMW Turner’s depiction of the Black Country in his painting ‘Dudley’ prompted him to consider how the great ‘painter of light’ viewed the land on his doorstep – a land he has always lived and breathed – the concept of which appears in
‘Let’s get you Home’. ’Home part 1’ sees a continuation of stories and characters from some of Scott’s previous songs. ‘Mona’ is a prequel to ‘Up on the Hill’ from his ‘Elsewhere’ album. ‘The Outsider’ has an ongoing theme, based around the character in ‘Passing Stranger’. Musically, Scott has channelled his inner Morricone in his first full-length instrumental track ‘The Clearing’. “Over the past decade I’ve gained a sound understanding of the recording process. Tips and techniques gained from working alongside gifted sound engineers have proved invaluable in the making of my first homemade album. The home studio environment has allowed me to experiment with alternate takes of a song, rework arrangements and make mistakes in familiar and relaxing surroundings. In challenging periods throughout the recording process, I’ve been able to take time out to reflect over a pot of tea, often working into the early hours. The home studio has also enabled me to push musical boundaries, whilst acknowledging my limitations.” Previously Scott was honoured by the guest appearance of Robert Plant on his album ‘Elsewhere’. ‘What the Night Delivers’ featured another guest performance from legendary double bassist Danny Thompson, whom Scott met whilst performing in Joe Boyd’s stage production of ‘Way to Blue – The Songs of Nick Drake’. He has performed on a number of international sell-out tours with respected artists such as Bert Jansch, Robert Plant, Foo Fighters, Snow Patrol and Rufus Wainwright. About his early start as a musician he says, “I started playing guitar seriously from the age of 11. Jimi Hendrix was a massive influence in those early days. I remember my dad playing me ‘Are You Experienced’, feeling completely captivated by this otherworldly sound. Throughout my teens, growing up in the West Midlands, I was trying to fit in at school with all the cool kids who were into The Stone Roses while I was bringing in mix tapes full of all these old blues guys! However, in the following years art and illustration dominated my life considerably and music took a back seat.
“I was closer to 20 before I started getting into acoustic guitar playing again. Neil Finn was a pivotal artist who helped me to bridge the gap between understanding how I could incorporate all the things I’d learned on the guitar and song writing. I then discovered the open tuning approach to guitar playing through John Martyn, Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell and Jimmy Page. It feels like an ever-expanding palette of colours to work with and even to this day I find interesting ways to explore song writing purely through mucking about with tunings.”