Scott Matthews’ ground-breaking debut album, Passing Stranger earned him serious critical acclaim with its bold mix of folk, rock, blues and Eastern-inspired song-writing, 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 Rufus Wainwright, Bert Jansch, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Foo Fighters, Snow Patrol and Tori Amos. His follow-up albums saw, Robert Plant come onboard for a guest contribution on second album, Elsewhere, and legendary bassist Danny Thompson appearing 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.
Championed by Lauren Laverne as ‘a big favourite’ and Huey Morgan as being ‘something else’, Scott’s musical dexterity and experimentative approach to song-writing and home-recording continued to excite over the course of the next several albums released on his own label, from the intrinsically poetic, organic nature of The Great Untold, to the daring and audacious New Skin. This album was arguably his boldest move yet, New Skin swathed in Eno-esque electronica and Thom Yorke-centric uncovering, channelled the driving energy of ‘80s Springsteen and was widely lauded by Robert Plant, Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, Bella Union’s Simon Raymonde and BBC 6Music. It was rock and ambient, acoustic and electro. Matthews had never sounded so vital. Never sounded so fresh. Never sounded so energised. And never sounded so good.
But this story is not over yet and the Ivor Novello award-winner is not afraid to evolve once more. From within this freshly paved electronic landscape, Matthews’ latest album, Restless Lullabies, emerges with a stark boldness that is breath taking. These phoenix songs, born from New Skin, have more to give, worthy of reincarnation, entirely reimagined by Matthews who appears dauntless, they are restless with good reason.
Now entirely unadorned, stripped of their electronic veil, the album’s acoustic purity creates a subliminal listening experience. From the ethereal acapella, ‘Intruders on Earth’, to the evocative duet, ‘Anniversary’, where Matthews performs with American soul-jazz singer, Krystle Warren, the result being a vocal fusion that seems impossibly perfect. The skeletal delicacy of the songs allows his poetry to breathe, his transcendent vocal to soar, brings his dexterously sensitive guitar playing into microscopic focus and further cements his undeniable mastery as one of our greatest songsmiths.
Restless Lullabies is the Yin to New Skin’sYang, so obviously interconnected and yet somehow possessing an entirely different force. Here, once again, Scott Matthews has given us a portal to his very core.