This year marks the 10th anniversary of Scott Matthews’ ground-breaking debut album, Passing Stranger. The bold mix of folk, rock, blues and Eastern-inspired song-writing earned Scott serious critical acclaim, and in 2007 his first single ‘Elusive’ won the Ivor Novello Award for ‘Best Song Musically and Lyrically’. From here Scott went on to perform on a number of international sell-out tours with respected artists such as Bert Jansch, Robert Plant, Foo Fighters and Rufus Wainwright.
Subsequently, Robert Plant came onboard for a guest contribution on Scott’s follow-up album, Elsewhere, and down the line legendary double bassist Danny Thompson joined Scott on his third release What The Night Delivers, having encountered each other whilst performing in Joe Boyd’s stage production of Way to Blue – The Songs of Nick Drake.
The vision for albums four and five were, however, much closer to home with Scott recording Home Part 1 in 2014 at the bottom of his garden in his home-built musical abode. This organic means of creating music from his home in the West Midlands inspired Scott to set up his own record label in 2016, ‘Shedio Records’, on which his new album, Home Part 2 will be released on 19th September 2016.
Home Part 2 finds Scott in many senses returning to the source, driven by what he describes as “a need to rekindle a relationship with the artist I was 10 years ago, but joining forces with the artist I am today”. Speaking about the contrasting interplay between the new record and its predecessor Home Part 1, Scott says “After completing Part 1, I was very much aware of how I wanted Part 2 to sound, look and feel. The more I record my music, the more I’ve realised I describe what I’m looking for as colours. This method helps me to visualise what instrumentation I’d like to hear. Part 1 has a very sepia-like tone, with warm, earthy browns and creams and has an almost grainy, sonic texture. Part 2 was always going to be the complete opposite, with a very technicolor outlook, it’s ‘technicolor brother’ if you will”.
Whilst his own experiences are often the inspiration for his song-writing, books, films and art sit at the heart of many of his songs. Strongly rooted in the Midlands, there is undoubtedly inspiration to be found here with its rich musical heritage, and Scott often references the landscape and its characters in his writing, most recently in the slide blues guitar track on Home Part 2 ‘Black Country Boy’, contrasted with the warmth and honesty in the song ‘Good Times’. The social realist work of writers such as Alan Sillitoe and the kitchen sink dramas that followed, such as Saturday Night, Sunday Morning and The L-shaped Room, have influenced his own lyric writing with their reflections of humble, working class life.
Among the reoccurring constants in his world are “home” and what it means to everyone. It links the mix of new songs on the album – whole-heartedly embracing it whilst blending it with dreamlike, otherworldly visions of escapism in the beguiling Waltz at Nightfall and the phantasmagorical Where I Long to Be, that reveal the troubadour at heart is never far away. His vocal style has been much referenced in ethereal terms of "ghostly", "haunting", "eerie" and "hypnotic", so perhaps there is magic afoot.
About his early start as a musician Scott says “Fundamentally, I’ve always been a guitar player since the age of eleven and it’s the only instrument I can hold confidently and assuredly and write songs with.
“I was closer to 20 before I started getting into the realms of acoustic guitar playing. Neil Finn is a pivotal artist who helped me to bridge the gap between understanding how I could incorporate all the things I’d learnt on the guitar and how it can be a trusty tool in pursuing my craft for writing songs. I then discovered the open tuning approach to guitar playing through John Martyn, Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, Davy Graham and Joni Mitchell, which over night seemed to blow my whole creative world wide open.
“With Part 2 the palette of guitar textures has widened further still with my love and rediscovery of the electric. My playing has naturally developed more of a percussive nature over time through playing more fingerstyle to accompany songs. I use the acoustic guitar to provide a structure, so I think about the drive of the rhythm whether I fingerpick or strum and how it supports my voice when writing. Interestingly, I’ve applied this fingerstyle approach to the electric guitar and it’s helped me find a new set of colours that I have introduced to full band songs.”
In his own words Home Part 2 is Scott’s “brightest spectrum of light to date. This last decade has flourished into something far beyond what I imagined and now as one 10-year chapter closes, I seem to have discovered the key to an even greater musical freedom, which I can’t wait to explore…”.