Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
Listenable, but no classic...
on 12 January 2007
I bought this album on the strength of 'Elusive', which is a suble, beatiful song, and in my opinion, the only song on the album which draws any kind of comparison with the oft-name-checked Jeff Buckley.
It seems to me that, 10 years after Jeff's death, far too many people are still searching for any artist with a guitar and falsetto to replace him. Well, Scott Matthews certainly has potential (his voice is great, and melodies occasionally excellent), but frankly, the songwriting is more reminiscent of American radio-friendly rock (i.e. of the Dave Matthews variety) than it is of Buckley.
One of the great things about Grace is it's spontaneity- I very much doubt that any of the songs on that album were ever played the same way more than once, and so the album as a whole does a great job of capturing the feel of a live performance. Spontaneity clearly isn't something Matthews subscribes to: songs rarely stray beyond a familiar verse-chorus structure, and are neatly apportioned into 4-minute soundbites which seem to span the length of the average American radio-listener's attention.
On the whole, the album is perfectly listenable, but only rarely particularly engaging. The production is part of the problem- everything is so polished and tweaked to the nth degree, that it sounds in parts like all the vitality has been drained from what could have otherwise been a good song; 'The Fool's Fooling Himself' is a prime example of this, where if the mix for the bass and drums had been a bit less bland, would have sounded a whole heap better.
But, that said, Scott Matthews is definitely worth keeping an eye on. A number of other reviewers mention his live performances as particularly outstanding, so I would imagine these may well translate to great records in the future.