Andy Coleman speaks to a song-writer who has some unfinished business.
Black Country singer/songwriter Scott Matthews plans to showcase some new material from his forthcoming third studio album at a special hometown gig – but some of the songs are not new at all.
The 34-year-old Wolverhampton troubadour has delved into his collection of unfinished tracks for his album, What The Night Delivers, set for release next year.
‘‘There’s one song on the new album called Myself Again and it’s one of the first songs I wrote back in 2002,’’ says Scott, who plays Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms on December 10. ‘‘I could never really find a space for it on anything, it didn’t seem to suit the vibe of my other albums, it just felt out of place.
‘‘Then there are tracks called Walking Home In The Rain and Bad Apple which are songs I’d started to sketch out as we finished my debut album Passing Stranger.
‘‘There’s a lot of loose ends that have been brought together and I feel like I’ve now done justice to them.’’
Passing Strangers, produced by Jon Cotton, was released in 2006 on the independent San Remo label, then licensed for re-release to Island Records.After its follow-up, Elsewhere, produced by Scott and Gavin Monaghan, Island pulled out of the deal. Scott’s uncertainty about the direction his music should go and the way his relationship with Island deteriorated influenced the newly written songs on What The Night Delivers.
‘‘There was a lot of that still lingering in my mind, I was thinking they clearly didn’t think my second album was good enough. You start getting a bit despondent; I was thinking, how long can I sustain this for?’’
A reunion with Jon Cotton for production duties on What The Night Delivers went some way to reigniting Scott’s enthusiasm.
‘‘We’re starting afresh which is a great thing, to be honest. The kind of stuff I was writing was pretty much down Jon’s street. I would play him a few of the songs and straightaway he’d be thinking ‘that’s what we need to do’ so it was almost like one of those time saving exercises as well. I didn’t want to take the chance of working with somebody else.
‘‘Jon knows my strengths and weaknesses and vice versa and we could learn to make the record based on that. As an engineer and producer Jon is an exceptional talent, he has such an ear for instrument sounds.
‘‘I’ve got all the right ideas but the execution sometimes lets me down. So it’s a good partnership, we can both have the same goal for a piece of music.’’
Scott sees the new album as a way of underlining where he is in his career.
‘‘You’ve got the kind of frantic, eclectic stuff of the first album, then you’ve got the more lyrically driven second album. I think the third record’s got all those elements but in a more condensed way.’’
He’s also releasing an in-concert album, Live In London, initially through the Internet.
‘‘I toured the UK in May and November last year and my sound engineer recorded all the shows.
‘‘We sieved through all the recordings and the Shepherd’s Bush Empire one was remembered as being an electric kind of gig – even though it was acoustic! – we just felt really good about it.
‘‘It was just me and Danny Keane on the cello. It was one of those moments when at the end we looked at each other and said ‘that was great, wasn’t it?’.’’
Scott is looking forward to 2011 with optimism.
‘‘This year has been quiet on the live front but next year we’ll have quite an impact. I’ve just done two shows in France – in Paris and Lille – and we’ve got big plans for Europe. There are plans to release in France, Spain, Holland, Germany and it will be nice to go on the festival circuit in Europe as well.
‘‘And Australia’s been encouraging. We sold something like 1,000 copies of the first album over there and I get regular messages from people on the internet. I have a bit of a following in Australia with people asking when I’m going to be going over so it may be nice to do the 24-hour mission.’’
The French shows have encouraged Scott to consider expanding his repertoire.
‘‘What was noticeable in France was that people were really getting the blues thing. There was a real electricity in the room for that kind of sound so a blues record is on my ‘To Do’ list.
‘‘Clearly people were aware of the songs and there was a real genuine passion for the music.’’
America is a territory that Scott had high hopes for, especially when one of the songs from Passing Stranger was featured on a top US television show.
‘‘We had Eyes Wider Than Before on Ugly Betty. That was a massive moment because it was such a big feature of the scene. It wasn’t one of those quiet moments, it was brought into the mix as the main centrepiece of a key scene. I thought that might have some impact and have people checking me out.
‘‘But but the second album – nothing. It’s important to concentrate on what’s got me the success from the start and that’s the UK audiences.
‘‘They’ve been loyal so I’d like to repay them.’’’
* Scott Matthews, Dec 10: Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton. Tickets: 0870 320 7000