Scott Matthews finds his own voice on new album
By David Wells
September 7, 2011
Scott Matthews has an impressive roster of star names with which he’s played, but he’s found his own voice on his new album. Dave Freak finds out more
WHILE making his second album, Elsewhere, Wolverhampton-based songwriter Scott Matthews found himself impressing fellow Black Country lad Robert Plant to the extent that the former Led Zep’ frontman guested on the record and took Scott on tour with him as support act.
Two years later, and Scott finds himself in the company of another musical hero as new album What The Night Delivers features legendary bass player Danny Thompson.
“In ’63 he was playing electric bass on tour with Roy Orbison, moved to session work in the mid-60s, played with Nick Drake in ’68 and then John Martyn,” gushes Scott.
“All the stories about him are true. He is so down to earth and a great character.”
The two met when Scott was invited to join producer-curator Joe Boyd’s Way To Blue: The Songs Of Nick Drake project – a live celebration of the work of cult songwriter Drake, who died in 1974 but has since achieved widespread recognition.
“After we’d met a few times Danny asked what I was up to, so I asked him if he’d play on a song and in the end I got him on two,” Scott says.
“He sent me some ideas and I just thought, ‘These are great!’
“He turned up at the studio in his old 1980s Land Rover and brought his double-bass dating from 1860 which he recorded River Man and all those (Nick Drake) Five Leaves Left songs.
“It was a fantastic experience. If I pack it up tomorrow that would be one of my highlights.”
When his debut album, Passing Stranger, was re-released by major label Island in 2006, Scott found himself the subject of much attention and, in 2007, he picked up an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically for debut single Elusive.
Although the musician’s moodier, less immediate second album failed to grab mainstream success – despite Robert Planet’s input – it nonetheless confirmed him as an alluring, inspired and subtle songwriter.
“I’m pleased with how the record turned out, but there are a couple of things I should have done,” he reflects.
“I tried very hard to make it different from the first one, I wanted to think outside of the box, hence the Bowie-esque layers – epic on a couple of tracks, then very intimate stuff.
“I’m very pleased with the songs, but maybe the execution let it down. So I went back to the drawing board for the third album.
“I found myself playing on my strengths,” he continues.
“A lot of people obsess about being original, but for me it’s important to be true to yourself, to be creative, make things interesting for yourself.”
Reuniting with producer Jon Cotton, who helped shape his debut, Scott found himself digging out old song ideas recorded on tape.
“Myself Again is one of the first songs I ever wrote,” Scott says of the opening track.
“In April 2002, I remember going to the pub with the bass player of my old band and talking about it. Afterwards, we went to the lock up where we used to rehearse and played it through.
“But I never found a place for it until today – it’s found its rightful place on this record.”
With What The Night Delivers now released, Scott’s already looking at a more experimental fourth album, and a series of “radical” EPs that could see him edging into Radiohead territory by combining analogue with digital sounds.
“An EP is a more logical step next. There’s room for experimentation, it’s more open minded, so I’ll maybe do a limited run of EPs to keep things ticking over, but there needs to be some quality control as well.
“There’s quite a lot of stuff building up at the moment, I have a backlog of ideas that need to be demoed which have a fresher sound for me.”
But before he returns to the studio, there’s his UK tour, which includes the Glee Club in Cardiff and a reunion with Danny Thompson.
“I’ve been invited to do some Nick Drake/Way To Blue shows in Australia in November where we’re doing two nights at the Sydney Opera House and also Melbourne – which is strange for a Black Country kid,” he adds.
“It’s daunting but it’ll be great. Playing the Sydney Opera House will be especially nerve wracking, so I just have to make sure I’m sober enough to remember the experience,” he laughs.