In a few years time, when Scott Matthews is about to release his eagerly awaited third album, he will have stopped being shadowed by the inevitable Nick Drake / Jeff Buckley comparisons, and instead will have joined his influences on the 'my favourite artists' lists of music lovers everywhere. Because Matthews is too good a songwriter, too good a singer and too good a guitarist to be written off as a mere talented copyist. Here, on his first album, he shows that far from being retro, he is light years ahead of any other singer/songwriter in Britain today. Blunt, Tunstall, Gonzalez et al can go home now that the real thing has arrived and Ryan Adams, Jeff Tweedy and other US demigods can start keeping a seat warm for him at their table.
This is a stunningly accomplished debut, released on the new San Remo label and mastered by Ray Staff, who has worked with The Stones and Led Zepellin amongst others. Ten songs proper nestle amongst seven further short jams and interludes on a record so well mixed, arranged and sequenced that Arthur Lee might be able to pick up a trick or two from listening. Then there's the quality of the songs, as good as anything you will hear this year. Excellent upbeat openers 'Dream Song' and 'The Fool Fooling Himself' echo parts of Jeff Buckley's 'Grace'; the former's strings, tabla and infectious wordless chorus ensuring your attention wont waver a beat for the next 45 minutes. Thereafter the album's more pervasive mellowness dominates. 'Eyes Wider Than Before' is the sweetest of English folk and 'Sweet Scented Figure' crosses delta blues with Nick Drake.
The album peaks with its final perfect four-song run. 'City Headache' finds the narrator equating urban life to feverish illness, finishing in a French waltz. Debut single 'Elusive' is, quite simply, gorgeous and must make Matthew's girlfriend fall in love with him again every time she hears it, while 'Earth to Calm' finds his guitar picking transcending the mere mortal.