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4.4 out of 5 stars17
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Matt Schofield is a chap I'd never heard of before. Listening to his music made me ASHAMED that I hadn't discovered his work before, frankly. The moment I first heard him play at the Lichfield Jazz Festival on the 27th June 2009, I was completely blown away the second he started strumming. The man is a phenomenal guitarist and his crew, Jonny Henderson (on keys), Jeff Walker (on Bass) and Alain Baudry (on drums) are all awesome.

If anyone thinks I'm exaggerating or being sycophantic, I can assure you I am NOT. Heads, Tails and Aces is an album that reels you in right when you press `Play'. It's blues music that is just full of emotion, rhythm and an awesome beat. The synchronisation of all the instruments is flawless and Matt's vocals add to the whole `feel good' experience. When you listen to the album, you cannot help but let it consume you. It's so easy to get into and embrace whole-heartedly because of the music's nature. Every track kicks off with a big bang and doesn't let up in it's momentum.

"What I Wanna Hear" is a song that is testament to that. In fact, it's the best song on the CD. It is indeed a song you want to hear, due to its ability to kick off a party (ANY party) to a rollicking start. It's a PERFECT opener and a perfect song. Bouncing, spine-tingling, never-relenting and generating a feeling of such great ecstasy; "What I Wanna Hear" is a song that will make everyone play it over again and again.

Not to say any of the other tracks are rubbish. NONE of them are. Next up, "Live Wire" is a different breed of cat and so refreshing and unique because of it. Different pacing and arrangements make for another cracking track, showing that Matt and his band don't go for anything samey, and that they're able to tinker radically to produce some wonderful pieces.

"War We Wage", "Betting Man", "Lay It Down", "Can't Put It Down", "Woman Across The River", "Nothing Left", "I Told Ya", "Stranger Blues" and "Not Raining Now" are all fantastic songs. Some are better than others, but not one of them ever fails to make you get down and go with the flow. You can't help but FEEL the great emotion the songs evoke, and that's the mark of a true artist.

Like reviewers before me have said, Matt Schofield is a man who deserves to have his name propelled into mainstream. After seeing him perform live and buying this album, I agree wholeheartedly. The man and all his fellow musicians are clearly gifted and this CD is something I would recommend to everyone. Heads, Tails & Aces is a fantastic album that represents high-quality and excellent value for money, regardless of what kind of music you fancy. Get a copy today!
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on 9 December 2010
There are too many blues guitarists these days, all those who have been practising in their basement in the last 10-15 years seem to be coming out at once. It is hard to keep up, both in time and money to spend on this, especially that you might think any orginality is almost impossible. A few new guys and gals stand out though. Joanne Shaw Taylor, Ana Popovic among the latter, Aynsley and Bonamassa in the former. And Matt Schofield!!! He has got a certain kind of touch that gives his guitar some personality. Technically flawless (as much as I can say) but with a soul. Put this on the top of your list for Xmas, must have :-)))
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on 11 May 2009
Well, i've had the album a couple of weeks now (courtesy of a direct pre-order to Nugene- they sent me a lovely free poster too, which was rather darned nice of them!) and it been spinning gently since. And a couple of weeks in, I am finally moved after 5 years to write my first proper Amazon review. Matt Schofield is a wonderful blues guitarist (and vocalist, we sometimes forget) and I firmly think that this is Matt's best, and definitely most cohesive, release to date. I think/hope it could really move things on for him.

And it kicks off right; of all the tracks, the one that's really gotten under my skin is the fantastic opener 'What I Wanna Hear' - a cracking, simple groove, but tweaked just-so and with neatly explosive rhythmic break-outs that bend the ear, a smoky vocal and some sublime lead breaks, paced to perfection. I really love this track. I would also pick out 'War We Wage'- intelligent and classy, but with simmering anger in its belly.

But not a duff track on the album (i'm not going to dissect them all- they are all great, i assure you), and noting that the 'originals' ratio is again high (9/11) this is a testament to Matt's developing song-writing prowess- great stuff. I even think the cover art scores a better hit too- a bit more upbeat, loud and confident- which reflects the music. From start to finish, Matt's playing is upfront and direct, exactly where it should be. Not to take away anything from the previous studio albums, which i love, I think this is the first release that truly manages to effectively 'bottle' the incredible energy and invention of Matt's extended live improvs, framed within really tight, lean and original song structures, so not invoking that sense of indulgence that most guitarists 'going off on one' in an extended jam or outro can be reasonably accused of. It really is the finished article.

I understand that Matt set out to achieve particular things with this album- a more direct, accessible style which would have wider appeal and help prevent his music falling down the dusty gap between straight-up blues audiences and the jazzier side of the street. That must have been a very hard balance to negotiate, without comprimising that liquid, lyrical Schofield sound, and i really do think he has 'Ace'd it (apologies!). I'm really impressed, and i'm not easily impressed.

Infact, I don't think any other modern blues guitarist has put out an album that, taken as a package, is remotely this good. Let's analyse- of the players that rise above parody or the merely 'solid/nice player' category, Messeurs Mayer and Trucks have some sweet chops of their own, especially the latter, but have divergent musical agendas, and so their playing and recordings lack the same unity and focus (and depth, in the case of Mayer). KWS needed vocal assistance to find his fire, and then lost it again in stylistic meanderings without really delivering on the early promise (IMHO). A certain Mr Ford is still playing fantastically, but his his song-writing is sometimes quite 'myeh', and his recorded output is reliably patchy, needing some 'best of' sorting. He also maybe lacks an 'edginess' whilst also being somehow less smooth and lyrical, and I can't put my finger on how that figures! Mr Bonamassa has given Gary Moore a long-needed unceremonious shove out of the shred-head blues-rock spotlight and taken a previously tired and hackneyed one-man genre into revitalised and more interesting territory, but like Moore, i think he's a shouty shredder at heart (just with a FAR more interesting and dynamic tool bag!) and his output is as much about rootsy-Americana rock as it is blues. Buddy Whittington has also put out a great first marker, fun and feisty, but his style draws heavily on a mix-bag of other Texas greats and the innovation is mostly lyrical rather than musical (but do buy it- super stuff!). Gregor Hilden in Germany shares with Matt a tone and touch to kill for/die for (depending on your nature) but is content to chalk up reverent and niche-y instrumental noodlings (not knocking this if that's his passion!) and evidently doesn't have the urge to break out of format and aim higher/wider.

No, Heads, Tails and Aces is that rarest of beasts- a PROPER 'modern vintage' blues record by a proper modern vintage blues musician. It goes straight to the top of my 'select list' of recordings, in the most prestigious company. It is the album i will now direct people to when spreading the word to musical friends and colleagues (i have a small congregation of converts... ) and i am really glad i can now do so without wondering if they will dig it, because on the strength of this material, i know they will.

So let's hope it does the job apparently intended, and that this is the album that opens doors to new venues and audiences, and propels Matt to the wider recognition he deserves- i hope it will be promoted like mad for this reason, because Matt's name really should be up in lights along with all of the name-checked artists above. Its probably just about getting the right breaks now to push at the door that Mayer and Bonamassa have once again kicked open in the industry for proper guitar-led music, and to get a bit of the action. Catch him live whilst you can still see him play up close and personal and shake his hand in muted awe at the end of the gig- if there is any justice, you'll need to be in possession of a backstage pass to do the same in a few years time.
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on 23 September 2009
If you own any of his other stuff - this will not disappoint. If you don't have anything by the mighty Schofield - this is a great place to start. I preferred the previous offering Ear to the Ground - slightly better selection of songs - but this is still quality stuff.
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on 9 November 2009
Saw Matt Schofield in Cheltenham last night, he just gets better everytime I see him.He is an absolutely brilliant and awesome talent,with a band to match.He is right up there with guitar folk like Clapton and Bonamassa,and this album is proof of it.If there is any blues based album this year anywhere near as good I've yet to hear it.He possesses a great voice,but his guitar work I believe sets him apart from the rest.Already surely he's among the best of all time and many have said the best since EC at his finest. I wonder just why he's not filling arenas worldwide and why others of vastly lesser talent are filling them ,but surely his time will come very soon.This album full of great playing,excellent material,beautifully recorded with as said his knockout band ,must be heard,because here Britain has a very major and exiting talent indeed.Almost every track is self composed with just a couple of superb covers.Hear this album and I'll guarantee you'll rush to order the rest straight away from Amazon. Go and see him live and you'll see exactly what I'm saying because Matt Schofield is a name everyone should know,and if your a guitar player don't miss out for one more day on Matt.My blues album of the year by some distance,GET IT ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST RIGHT NOW !
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on 28 May 2009
Matt Schofield has with the release of 'Heads, Tails & Aces' finally made the album that all his fans and critics knew he was capable of... combining his versatile and gifted guitar/vocals/songwriting with his band to produce a perfect fusion of blues/jazz/rock which makes compelling listening!
Matt Schofield is on Guitar & Vocals and his new look 4-piece band features the steadfast Jonny Henderson on Hammond C3 Organ, Wurlitzer Electric Piano & Piano and welcomes Jeff 'The Funk' Walker on Upright & Electric Bass and Alain Baudry on Drums & Percussion.
'Heads, Tails & Aces' features 11 dynamic tracks with 9 originals cruising through slow burning blues and blues/jazz/rock improvisations with guitar breaks approaching 'meltdown' that quite simply explode! What makes this album so special is its freshness and sense of adventure allowing music to be played 'on the edge' successfully fusing genres whilst at the same time sounding tight and cohesive!
'Heads, Tails & Aces' is without doubt one of the most significant releases of 2009 portraying exactly why Matt Schofield is slowly but surely becoming acknowledged as one of the most innovative guitarists in the world today and after listening to this... I'm sure you'll agree!
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on 24 September 2011
Pitched somewhere between SRV and Robben Ford, Schofield certainly impresses with his guitar technique and fluid playing. Unfortunately, his singing is mediocre and the songs mostly cliche and lacking in spark or originality. I know this is the blues and it is difficult to be original in this format, but overall this album fails to deliver. Schofield has neither the soul of BB King, the power and intensity of SRV or the feel of Robben Ford and what we are left with is an accomplished guitar player going through his trick bag. An album for guitar players only, methinks.
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on 25 July 2009
I just want to add my voice to all the other rave reviews here. I'd never heard of Matt Schofield a week ago - now I can't stop playing his albums.
This guy is sensational!
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on 22 March 2014
Matt Schofield never fails to produce a good album with skilful playing and well written songs .I purchased this post other albums as I was always looking for a good second hand bargain I knew this album was good so there was never any date as to its quality A good variety of blues tracks with plenty of guitar and superb back up from the rhythm section Matt never fails
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on 1 April 2013
I saw Matt in The Brewery, Kendal shortly after buying this CD following an airing on Paul Jones' R2 show. It's very pleasant and I would have no hesitation in recommending it. Like most CDs there are favoured tracks.
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